Uber have lost their London license due to dubious vetting practices. London is well known for its stringent transport policies, so much so that it is recognised as one of the safest cities in the world for public transport.
Uber, the ride-hailing app that acts as a middleman between people looking for a lift and freelance drivers, has over 40,000 drivers in London and is used by an estimated 3.5 million people. Uber fares are usually lower than those offered by black cabs and mini cabs and offers users a convenient and economical alternative to traditional taxis. It was first licensed in May 2012 and in May 2017 was given a 3-month temporary license after concerns were raised about Uber’s safety.
TfL have since taken the decision not to renew Uber’s license. It has come under fire for side stepping required standards set by TfL and not following policy which seeks to ensure that all drivers are fit to drive and have passed Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks. TfL have said that Uber did not meet their “rigorous” regulations regarding vetting drivers and reporting serious criminal offences, and have been criticised for the use of its Greyball software, used by Uber to deny rides to anyone who might attempt to disrupt their operations. The Greyball software is in violation of TfL licensing terms because it could allegedly deny rides to law enforcement officers investigating Uber. However, Uber have stated that Greyball has never been used in London, due to the regulations imposed by TfL.
Uber’s license ran out on the 30th September, but can continue to operate until the company has exhausted all of its appeals with TfL. The controversial decision has split opinion, with many taxi firms supporting the verdict, while over 840,000 people have signed a petition to reinstate the license.
Ensuring the safety of all those who use a service is of critical importance to all businesses operating with the public. Uber may well reverse its fate if it can convince TfL that it is capable of effectively screening its drivers as well as taking its responsibility to public safety and the protection of London’s reputation seriously.