Some would say this has been a long time coming, others will be genuinely upset at the prospect of no Uber service in London, one of the most travelled too cities in the world!
Transport for London (TfL) Halts Uber
Today, Friday 22nd September 2017, TfL informed Uber London that they would not have their private hire operator licence renewed after the current one expires on 30th September! The full press release reads as follows:
Transport for London (TfL) has today (Friday 22 September) informed Uber London Limited that it will not be issued with a private hire operator licence after expiry of its current licence on 30 September.
TfL’s regulation of London’s taxi and private hire trades is designed to ensure passenger safety. Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate. TfL must also be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a licence.
TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.
TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications. These include:
- Its approach to reporting serious criminal offences.
- Its approach to how medical certificates are obtained.
- Its approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained.
- Its approach to explaining the use of Greyball in London – software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.
The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 includes provision to appeal a licensing decision within 21 days of it being communicated to the applicant. Uber London Limited can continue to operate until any appeal processes have been exhausted.
No further comment will be made by TfL pending any appeal of this decision.
Uber has already confirmed they will be launching an appeal, so we will continue to see Uber within London after the expiry date, but for how long, is anyones guess.
Why This Matters
I have a love/hate relationship with Uber. As a traveller, having Uber on my phone is a must. I even check Uber are operating before I travel.
- No need for cash transactions
- Track your driver before collection
- Share your trip with others so they know your location
- Seamless payment with saved card details
- Choice of cars….. or helicopter.
All great reasons Uber is a useful option for any type of traveller. Yet, in London at least, I doubt I would ever let a female member of my family or friends use the service.
Every driver I can recall having in London spoke little to no English. Most seem to be 100% reliant on the Sat Nav with no idea of where they are or where they are going. Although I have never been attacked or assaulted by any Uber Driver, I can’t help but relate to some of the horror stories based on the characters who have collected me in London.
For me Uber and the App have created a new alternative to inner city commuting. I will be amazed if this ends up with Uber leaving London, but there will have to be some big changes to reverse this ruling.
For balance, I solely used Uber to move around Washington D.C. the other year with my family. Making use of Uber XL, with 2 toddlers, we never waited more than 6-8 mins for a ride, the drivers were talkative, informative and friendly. Using Uber allowed us to maximise the short time we had in the City at a reasonable rate.
Uber can, and does, work. Just not in London!
Editor Update: No sooner had I posted this than Uber shared a link to an online petition to #SaveYourUber. If you want to put pressure on TfL and the mayor of London, you can sign up at Change.Org or follow Uber UK on Twitter.