If you're in London, the next Uber you hail may be the last to whisk you past the Tower, the Bridge, and Westminster Abbey.
London's transportation department has refused to renew Uber’s private hire operator license, which expires at the end of September, meaning the ride-sharing giant could soon be banned from London.
In a strongly worded and damning statement, Transport for London (TfL) outlined a multitude of reasons why it doesn’t consider Uber “fit and proper to hold a license.”
Calling them “public safety and security implications,” TfL cited everything from the way Uber reports serious crimes, to how it obtains medical certificates and Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service checks, and even the way Uber explains the how it uses software to block government regulatory bodies from accessing the app.
London's letter to UberEnlarge Photo
For its part, Uber responded to the decision by claiming it was a politically motivated attack on innovation. “Far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies,” it said in a statement. “Transport for London and the mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice.”
London is among Uber’s most important markets, with over 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million passengers annually. Just this month, it announced a self-imposed ban on all diesel engines by 2020 and a strong push toward hybrid and electric vehicles by 2025.
However, the company has been criticized in London for adding to the city’s already-bad congestion issues, as well as allegations of unreported sexual assaults by its drivers.
While the decision will be hotly contested by Uber, the drivers of London’s famous black cabs—a direct competitor to Uber’s service—are celebrating the decision. London’s Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association general secretary Steve McNamara said, “We expect Uber will again embark on a spurious legal challenge against the mayor and TfL, and we will urge the court to uphold this decision. This immoral company has no place on London's streets.”
Uber has 21 days to appeal the decision, and will be allowed to continue service during the appeal process.