UBER FIGHTS TO STAY IN LON­DON

Weekend Courier - - Driveway -

UBER, which just days ago said it needed its fleet in Lon­don to be hy­brid or elec­tric pow­ered by 2020, could be booted out of the Bri­tish cap­i­tal al­to­gether.

In a shock move, Trans­port for Lon­don (TfL) has re­jected Uber's ap­pli­ca­tion to re­new its licence, and its cur­rent licence ex­pired on Septem­ber 30.

The move has been crit­i­cised by cus­tomers, driv­ers and even some govern­ment min­is­ters.

TfL said the ride-shar­ing com­pany was not a fit and proper op­er­a­tor, cit­ing a “lack of cor­po­rate re­spon­si­bil­ity in re­la­tion to re­port­ing se­ri­ous crim­i­nal of­fences, ob­tain­ing med­i­cal cer­tifi­cates and driver back­ground checks”.

An­other prob­lem was Uber’s use of Grey­ball soft­ware, which can prevent reg­u­la­tory bodies from gain­ing ac­cess to its app.

Uber says it will chal­lenge the rul­ing in the courts.

It can con­tinue to op­er­ate in Lon­don – where it has 3.5 mil­lion users – un­til it gets a court de­ci­sion, which could be quite a while.

The de­ci­sion by TfL was backed by Lon­don Mayor, Sadiq Khan and the cap­i­tal’s tra­di­tional cab­bies.

Steve McNa­mara, of the Li­censed Taxi Driv­ers’ As­so­ci­a­tion, said the mayor had made the right de­ci­sion.

“Since it first came on to our streets, Uber has bro­ken the law, ex­ploited its driv­ers and re­fused to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for the safety of pas­sen­gers,” he said.

“This im­moral com­pany has no place on Lon­don's streets.”

But Trade Min­is­ter Greg Hands was less than happy.

“At the flick of a pen, Sadiq Khan is threat­en­ing to put 40,000 peo­ple out of work and leave 3.5 mil­lion users of Uber stranded,” he said.

“A blan­ket ban will cause massive in­con­ve­nience to mil­lions of Lon­don­ers, all while show­ing that the Mayor of Lon­don is closed to busi­ness and in­no­va­tion.”

Uber CEO Dara Khos­row­shahi ap­pealed to Lon­don­ers to “work with us” in solv­ing the is­sue.

“It’s crit­i­cal that we act with in­tegrity in every­thing we do and learn how to be a bet­ter part­ner to every city we op­er­ate in,” he said

“We will vig­or­ously ap­peal TfL’s de­ci­sion and show that Uber is not just a re­ally great prod­uct, but a re­ally great com­pany that is mean­ing­fully con­tribut­ing to so­ci­ety, be­yond its busi­ness and its bot­tom line.”

Lon­don is one of Uber’s most im­por­tant mar­kets, but it's not alone on try­ing to re­move Uber from its streets.

Bul­garia, Den­mark, Hun­gary and Italy all have banned or suspended Uber, and in Austin, Texas, au­thor­i­ties de­manded all Uber driv­ers un­dergo finger­print and back­ground checks. Uber de­clined, and left. In China, the Uber op­er­a­tion was bought out by a ri­val com­pany.

Uber is un­der threat in Lon­don.

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