Announcing the decision on Monday, Transport for London (TfL), which governs the ability of the ride-hailing app to operate in the capital, said it had identified “a pattern of failures” and that it did not have confidence that the firm had “a robust system for protecting passenger safety”.
“Safety is our absolute top priority. While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured”, said Helen Chapman, TfL’s director of licensing, regulation and charging.
The decision was also supported by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, who said that 14,000 Uber journeys over the last few months had involved fraudulent drivers uploading photos to other driver accounts, potentially placing passengers in vehicles with unlicensed or suspended drivers.
“I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users but their safety is the paramount concern. Regulations are there to keep Londoners safe, and fully complying with TfL’s strict standards is essential if private hire operators want a licence to operate in London”, Khan said.
The company has said it will appeal the decision, during which time it will be allowed to continue operating.
Uber was granted a two-month operating licence in October, much lower than the five-year term it had requested, after a previous application in 2017 was denied by TfL over concerns around the ride-hailing firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and driver background checks.
A judge in 2018 then granted the company a probationary 15-month licence, which expired on September 25, after the firm had made several changes to its business model in London, its most important European market.
The loss of one of its most lucrative operating areas will pile further pressure on Uber, which earlier this month reported a third quarter loss of US$1.2bn, 18% wider than the prior year, as it was forced to shell out more cash for customer discounts and funding for its other ventures.
Uber’s shares were down 6.5% at US$27.65 in pre-market trading in New York.
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