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AUTOCAB DEAL: Uber could work in London even if they fail to save their operator’s licence in court

Uber could still operate in London even if they fail in their legal battle to save its operating licence in the capital it has emerged.

Last year Transport for London (TfL) failed to grant Uber London Limited (Uber) a new private hire operator’s licence following concerns surrounding passenger safety.

Uber are now set to appeal that decision in what was originally seen as a vital bid to remain working in their biggest UK market. The hearing is set to run between the 14-17 September.

However, after the shock acquisition of Autocab, a taxi and private hire tech booking platform, Uber now look likely to continue working in London even if they lose their appeal and hold no operator’s licence within Greater London.

As part of the acquisition, Autocab will continue to provide private hire and taxi operators with technology to run their business, including booking and dispatch software, and also connect them with trips through their iGo marketplace. 

Under this deal the ride-hailing firm could continue operating in the capital under the umbrella of local private hire operators who do hold licences within the authority.

TaxiPoint Editor, Perry Richardson, asked Autocab via social media: “Uber lost its operator’s licence in London and are set to appeal in September. If they lose their licence will Uber still be able to operate in London using your platform?”

A spokesperson from Autocab responded, saying: “My understanding is yes, via local private hire vehicles licensed to operate in the capital who opt-in to receive work from Uber via the iGo Marketplace”

In letters sent by TfL to Uber, it revealed why the capital‘s regulator refused Uber a licence to operate back in November 2019. As the regulator of taxi and private hire services in London, TfL is required to make a decision on Uber’s fitness and propriety before its current licence expires.

The letters outlined a series of failures from Uber to protect passengers and other road users, including:

  • A global phishing scam, involving manipulation of GPS signals to create fictitious journeys for which passengers are charged;

  • The use of fake insurance certificates, and Uber’s failure to check start and end dates for insurance;

  • Drivers with fraudulent private hire licences using the app to transport passengers;

  • Unlicensed vehicles used to transport passengers;

  • Drivers fraudulently replacing account profile pictures with photos of a different individual, to allow others to pick up passengers using their log-in details;

  • Drivers using online videos which demonstrated how to fake their locations at airports, to allow drivers to jump queues or find out destinations before beginning trips.

The letter also confirmed that Uber received 27,799 safety-related complaints between 1 December 2018 and 31 May 2019.

Under the new Autocab deal, all local authorities will now lose their ability to choose whether they allow Uber journeys to commence in their licensing authority.


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