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Uber London stripped of licence

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Transport for London (TfL) will not renew Uber’s licence to operate in the capital, branding the taxi firm as ‘unfit’.

The taxi regulator said it had identified a “pattern of failures” including serious breaches that risked passenger safety.

It found that Uber’s systems allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts which meant they could pick up passengers seemingly as the booked driver.

Around 14,000 trips were made in this way, meaning all the journeys were uninsured and some customers rode with unlicensed drivers, one of which had previously had their licence revoked.

Dismissed or suspended drivers were also able to create an Uber account to take on bookings, which compromised passenger safety and security, TfL said.

Uber was first stripped of its London licence in 2017 but the decision was overturned in June 2018.

TfL said Uber London had made a number of positive changes and improvements to its culture, leadership and systems since 2018, it “does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future” and branded the company “not fit and proper at this time”.

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.”

As such, Uber London Limited’s latest licence application won’t be granted though the firm has 21 days to appeal and it can continue to operate as normal during the process.

In an email to users, Uber wrote: “TfL announced it will not be renewing Uber’s licence to operate in London. We think this decision is wrong and we will appeal.

“Over the last two years we have fundamentally changed our business and TfL found us to be a fit and proper operator just two months ago.

“We remain 100% committed to your safety.”