Uber has failed to secure a maximum five-year operating license in London. The transportation network company was only given two months by regulators.
The Silicon Valley-based company was hoping that it would be able to return to its normal operations once its current license expires tomorrow. However, Transport for London (TfL) has only given Uber a reprieve in its London operation.
This isn’t the first time that Uber is dealing with operating license issues. In 2017, its request for renewal failed after the TfL pinpointed the lack of corporate responsibility in their approach and conduct towards reporting serious criminal offenses, conducting driver background checks, and acquiring medical certificates.
The decision then was met with an outcry from Uber’s customers as well as government ministers and drivers.
Drivers of London’s traditional black taxis have been against the renewal of Uber’s license. They have been vocal against the company’s working standards, safety standards, and the undercutting of the business model.
It appealed the decision and it was able to operate while it was ongoing. In 2018, Uber was granted a probationary 15-month license. The company had to make several to its business model in its most important market in Europe. The probationary license granted to Uber in London will expire on September 25.
The license loss that Uber experienced in 2017 came just weeks after its Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi was hired. It became a test of Khosrowshahi’s ability to mitigate concerns regarding regulators most especially with the Uber app faced contentions from both rivals and authorities in different markets.
The two-month license granted by TfL is said to have come with new conditions to ensure passenger safety. With that said, the TfL is also requesting for more details regarding passenger safety from Uber.
“Uber London Limited has been granted a two-month private hire operator license to allow for scrutiny of additional information that we are requesting ahead of consideration of any potential further licensing application,” said a TfL spokesman.
TfL’s new conditions for Uber include appropriate insurance, ride-sharing, and driver document checks by the company.
The Tfl, chaired by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, said Uber needs to play by the rules. Sadiq, who has been critical of Uber said: “You will know my track record which is standing up to the big boys, and they are boys, and make sure everyone plays by the rules. I don’t care how many lawyers you employ or how big your PR budget.”
According to an emailed statement by Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, TfL has acknowledged the company’s improvement in terms of culture and governance. Heywood also said that Uber will continue working with the transport authority closely.
“Over the past two years, we’ve launched a range of new safety features in the app, introduced better protection for drivers and our Clean Air Plan is helping to tackle air pollution. We will keep listening, learning and improving to provide the best service while being a trusted partner to London,” Heywood said.
According to Uber, there are currently about 45,000 Uber drivers in London. The company says the drivers are reveling in the flexibility of their job. It is currently taking measures to improve and to ensure passenger safety.