London’s transport authority has stripped Uber of its licence to operate from the end of the month, dealing a huge blow to the ride-hailing app in its largest European market.
Transport for London (TfL) said on Friday that Uber was “not fit and proper” to hold a private vehicle hire licence and that it would not be renewed when it expires on Sept. 30.
Local authorities have questioned Uber’s background checks on drivers and said the company takes too long to report criminal offences.
“TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications,” the transport regulator said in a statement.
“Save your Uber”
Uber, which has 40,000 drivers in London, said it would challenge the decision. It has 21 days to do so and can continue to operate until the appeals process is exhausted, which could take months.
An online petition against TfL’s decision gathered more than 200,000 signatures in the space of a few hours.
Love it or hate it
In London, the firm has faced fierce criticism from unions, lawmakers and traditional taxis over working conditions.
London’s black cab drivers say Uber isn’t safe, and that it threatens their livelihoods.
The loss of the licence comes at a rough time for Uber, which has been hit in recent months by a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying at the US-based company that forced out its former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick.
The app has also been forced to stop operating in several countries, including Denmark and Hungary, and has faced regulatory battles in other parts of the world.
London police complained in a letter in April that Uber was either not disclosing, or taking too long, to report serious crimes including sexual assaults and that this put the public at risk.
Safety comes first
Uber said on Friday its drivers passed the same rigorous checks as black cab drivers, that it had always followed TfL’s rules on reporting serious incidents and that it had a dedicated team working closely with London’s police.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan backed TfL’s decision.
“All private-hire operators in London need to play by the rules. The safety and security of customers must be paramount,” Khan wrote in an op-ed in the Guardian.