Subject to appeal online taxi service may have to stop operating
In what is being described as a surprise decision Transport for London (TfL) has this Friday (22 September) informed Uber London Limited of its intention not to renew its operating licence when it expires at the end of this month after concluding the firm is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.
TfL say it reached the decision for a variety of reasons including the companies approach to reporting serious criminal offences, how medical certificates are obtained and how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are made. They also said they were concerned about the use of software called Greyball which they claim can be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.
The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 includes provision to appeal a licensing decision within 21 days. Uber can continue to operate until any appeal processes have been exhausted which it is believed will mean the service will continue to run after the licence expires.
TfL granted a 4-month PH Operator Licence in May of this year whilst it concluded its consideration of a five year licence.
TfL said in their statement on the decision, “TfL’s regulation of London's taxi and private hire trades is designed to ensure passenger safety. Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate. TfL must also be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a licence.
“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. “
Uber London Limited was licenced as a Private Hire (PH) Operator in 2012 and says that it has 3.5million users in London and 40,000 drivers. The arrival of the firm brought about an angry response from black cab drivers who claimed it represented unfair competition and the company has attracted criticism over its treatment of drivers. Supporters of the service believe it contributes to passenger safety as a photo with the name of the driver is provided at the time of booking. It is feared that many of the drivers formerly employed by Uber will return to touting for trade on a freelance basis with no record being made of fares they take.
We have asked Uber for a comment and await a reply. TfL have said they will not be commenting further on the issue until any appeal has been concluded.
September 22, 2017