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Transport for London has stripped Uber of its operating licence.
This comes after TfL rejected giving the minicab app a full licence at the end of September. Uber's current licence expires at 23.59 tonight — Monday 25 November. However, it can continue to operate for the next 21 days while it appeals the decision.
Responding to TfL's decision, Uber's Jamie Heywood, Regional General Manager for Northern & Eastern Europe, said:
TfL's decision not to renew Uber's licence in London is extraordinary and wrong, and we will appeal. We have fundamentally changed our business over the last two years and are setting the standard on safety. TfL found us to be a fit and proper operator just two months ago, and we continue to go above and beyond.
On behalf of the 3.5 million riders and 45,000 licensed drivers who depend on Uber in London, we will continue to operate as normal and will do everything we can to work with TfL to resolve this situation.
As many will be aware, this is not the first time TfL and Uber have been at loggerheads. Issues began in late 2017, the first time TfL refused to grant Uber a licence. The reason for TfL's decision then, is remarkably similar to now: Driver safety.
Over recent months a loophole in the app has meant that unauthorised drivers have managed to continue to use Uber to pick up passengers. Some of these drivers did not have proper insurance, while others have had their licences revoked. TfL estimates that there have been 14,000 of these trips — putting passenger safety and security at risk.
Helen Chapman, Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging at TfL, said:
As the regulator of private hire services in London we are required to make a decision today on whether Uber is fit and proper to hold a licence. Safety is our absolute top priority. While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.
It is clearly concerning that these issues arose, but it is also concerning that we cannot be confident that similar issues won't happen again in future. If they choose to appeal, Uber will have the opportunity to publicly demonstrate to a magistrate whether it has put in place sufficient measures to ensure potential safety risks to passengers are eliminated.
If they do appeal, Uber can continue to operate and we will closely scrutinise the company to ensure the management has robust controls in place to ensure safety is not compromised during any changes to the app.
Jamie Heywood from Uber said on this issue:
Over the last two months we have audited every driver in London and further strengthened our processes. We have robust systems and checks in place to confirm the identity of drivers and will soon be introducing a new facial matching process, which we believe is a first in London taxi and private hire.