Uber apologises after Lon­don ban

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What hap­pened?

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of Uber, Dara Khos­row­shahi, said he was sorry for the “mis­takes we’ve made” after the taxi-hail­ing firm lost its Lon­don li­cence. Uber’s reign in the cap­i­tal looks to be over, after Trans­port for Lon­don ( TFL) re­fused to re­new the ride-shar­ing ser­vice’s li­cence. TFL said it con­cluded that Uber “is not fit and proper to hold a pri­vate hire op­er­a­tor li­cence”.

In a state­ment posted on Twit­ter, TFL said that Uber’s ap­proach and con­duct “demon­strate a lack of cor­po­rate re­spon­si­bil­ity”, and lists four points, in­clud­ing Uber’s fail­ure to re­port se­ri­ous crim­i­nal of­fences, its ap­proach to med­i­cal cer­tifi­cates and its ap­proach to how En­hanced Dis­clo­sure and Bar­ring Ser­vice (DBS) checks are ob­tained.

The news came as a huge blow to Uber, which has been be­set by prob­lems over re­cent months, though the de­ci­sion by a ma­jor city to strip Uber of its li­cence marks a new low point for the com­pany.

Uber re­sponded by say­ing it will “im­me­di­ately chal­lenge” Tfl’s de­ci­sion in the courts, but ac­cepts it “must change”. Mr Khos­row­shahi said: “While Uber has rev­o­lu­tionised the way peo­ple move in cities around the world, it’s equally true that we’ve got things wrong along the way. On be­half of ev­ery­one at Uber glob­ally, I apol­o­gise for the mis­takes we’ve made.”

How will it af­fect you?

If you’re a reg­u­lar Uber pas­sen­ger, you may be dis­mayed by Tfl’s de­ci­sion: more than 3.5 mil­lion peo­ple who live and work in Lon­don use the ser­vice to travel, pri­mar­ily be­cause it’s cheaper and more con­ve­nient than hir­ing a black cab. In­deed, at the time of writ­ing, more than 750,000 peo­ple had signed a pe­ti­tion to re­store the firm’s li­cence.

Uber also has more than 40,000 driv­ers in Lon­don, who will now be de­prived of reg­u­lar in­come, al­though the com­pany re­fused to grant them work­ers’ rights un­til forced to by a tri­bunal panel. It’s pos­si­ble that Uber cars could re­main on the roads while the ap­peal goes through the courts.

What do we think?

This was a sur­prise de­ci­sion by TFL, but an un­der­stand­able one: Uber re­peat­edly avoided tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the crim­i­nal con­duct of some of its driv­ers, its lax se­cu­rity checks and its dis­re­gard to­wards its work­ers, pas­sen­gers and ri­vals. How­ever, there’s a strong chance that the rul­ing will be over­turned, as it was in Italy in July, if Uber agrees to com­pro­mise and im­prove its busi­ness prac­tices – es­pe­cially given the level of pub­lic sup­port for the com­pany.

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