Published: Wed, November 27, 2019
Markets | By Otis Pena

Uber loses London license over safety failures

Uber loses London license over safety failures

The transport authority said that while Uber has made a number of positive changes and improvements to how it operates, a "pattern of failures" has put passengers safety at risk. Not only that, but it was also reported that drivers who Uber had sacked or were investigating were able to simply register a new user account and go back to work un-detected.

Ola, which already operates in the United Kingdom, said it has held "constructive conversations" with local authorities.

But Uber is by far the biggest player, and seems unlikely to give up its London crown any time soon.

In September, it received only a two-month licence, which expired on Monday. A London court granted Uber a 15-month licence, and when it ran out, TfL extended it for two months as it waited for additional documents.

Uber has chose to appeal the decision.

Uber's rapid growth in London, where it says it has 3.5 million regular users, was seen as a success story for the company's expansion outside the US since it started service in 2012.

Uber executives are being summoned to an emergency assembly with Manchester Metropolis Council after the taxi agency was stripped of its licence in London.

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The decision is a major blow for Uber in one of its largest markets but it does not mean its company cars will disappear from London immediately. Of course, this is the case with any minicab (black cabs, of course, have a barrier between driver and passenger, and different door locks, to help provide safety and reassurance for both passenger and driver).

Bengaluru-based ride hailing startup Ola said on November 26 that it has begun onboarding licenced drivers in London as it gears up to launch operations in the city.

As US lawmakers threaten tighter regulation, Uber and Lyft Inc skipped a US congressional hearing last month on the industry's safety, labour and congestion.

Uber has faced regulatory scrutiny in markets around the USA and the world for relying on an approach that prioritized entering cities and amassing users there - and letting politicians sort out how to respond later. In March, the company paid $20 million to settle a long-running lawsuit brought by drivers claiming they were employees and entitled to certain wage protections.

Uber now has 21 days to appeal, during which it can continue to operate pending any appeal and throughout any such process. Although TfL recognised the steps that Uber had put in place to prevent this type of activity, the agency is concerned that the company's systems seem to have been comparatively easily manipulated.

It has also been not only reassuring customers logging into its app-"We're still here, London!"-but also urging them to "share how you use Uber" by tweeting to them".

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