Emerging: London bans Uber over safety and regulatory failures


London’s transport authority has rejected Uber’s application for a renewed operating license, saying that the global ride-hailing service is not a “fit and proper” operator.

Uber can continue operating in London for three weeks while it appeals the decision.

Transport for London (TfL) said that Uber had demonstrated a “lack of corporate responsibility” with potential implications for public safety – citing the company’s approach to reporting criminal offences and obtaining background checks on its drivers.

Reaction

Uber’s London manager Tom Elvidge said in a statement, “3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision.”

Elvidge disputed all of the reasons TfL gave for its decision, saying that its drivers undergo the same background checks as London’s black cab drivers and that the company closely follows TfL guidelines.

“This ban would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers,” said Elvidge.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, meanwhile, issued a statement supporting the decision.

“Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of safety and security,” he said.

Uber’s controversies

Uber has suffered a series of public-relations setbacks over the past few years. CEO Travis Kalanick resigned earlier this year following accusations of sexual harassment amid reports of a sexist culture at the tech company.

Kalanick was also videoed earlier this year swearing at an Uber driver in a row over pay.

The company also has been criticized for failing to ensure the safety of passengers. Last year, a freedom of information request revealed that there were 32 allegations of rape or sexual assault by Uber drivers reported to London’s Metropolitan Police in 2015.

An employment tribunal also found last year that Uber drivers in the UK qualified as employees, saying that the company must offer them appropriate benefits and maintain the minimum wage.

The company’s use of Greyball software, which can be used to evade regulators, was also noted by TfL in its rejection of a new license.

In April, an investigation by authorities in Portland, Oregon, found that Uber had used the software to evade local government.

Uber have said that it uses Greyball to deter riders who might endanger their drivers.

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