London’s future mayoral candidates have criticised the current mayor's decision to support the banning of ride-hailing app Uber.
Earlier this week Transport for London (TfL) rejected a renewed operator's licence for Uber in London for the second time in two years.
TfL, which falls under the leadership of the London Mayor Sadiq Khan, said that whilst they recognised that Uber has made a number of positive changes and improvements, they had identified a ‘pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk’.
TfL added that they did not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time.
Former Conservative minister Rory Stewart is set to run as an independent candidate in next year's London Mayor election race. Speaking after a London Chamber of Commence event at the capital’s swanky Ivy restaurant, Stewart was heavily critical of Sadiq Khan when he spoke to reporters.
Stewart questioned the motives behind Khan’s decision and also his “lack if grip” to sort out issues quickly, pointing swiftly at his management of projects like Crossrail and the running of the tube network.
According to journalist Ross Lydall, the independent candidate said: “I would like to know whether he made this decision or he didn’t. I suspect when it suits him – he is talking to the black cab trade – he says he made the decision himself and it was an incredibly brave political decision. Probably when he talks to Uber he says: ‘I have no choice in the matter. This was a regulation from TfL.'”
Stewart added: “I’m a huge believer in black cabs. I take them all the time. But I also use Uber. I’m very stuck by he fact that it’s providing flexible working for a lot of people who otherwise would find it difficult to work, and it’s providing a service for Londoners.”
Sadiq Khan’s other rivals also showed their displeasure towards the London Mayor. Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey said: “Unfortunately, we have now come to a point where London’s reputation as a world-class city that is open to business has taken a hammer blow. Sadiq Khan has had two plus years to come up with a clear policy on ride hailing that both respects London’s iconic Black cab trade and meets Londoners’ needs, and he hasn’t delivered.
“Today’s ban is an admission of failure on regulation that will lead to job losses for tens of thousands of Londoners from mostly BAME communities.”
Lib Dem mayoral candidate Siobhan Benita called the ban a “Blow to the huge numbers who rely on Uber”.
Benita said: “Today’s decision will be a blow to the huge numbers of Londoners who rely on Uber and value the service it provides. It will also be a massive concern to the many drivers and their families whose livelihoods depend on the continuation of Uber in London.
“Of course it’s vital that Uber provides a service that keeps passengers safe. But the Mayor has had years to resolve concerns and issues with Uber and has failed to do so. Major cities around the world can do this, so surely we can do too. Sadiq Khan needs to find a resolution to this issue as soon as possible - one that works for the full range of taxi drivers in the capital as well as the safety and preferences of Londoners.”
Private hire drivers using the Uber app as an operator are expected to join similar operators. Private hire drivers and Londoners can choose from nearly 2,000 other firms operating in London which include global app companies like Ola, Bolt and Kapten.
One of the key concerns shown by TfL was centred around the safety of the Uber app. According to the regulators a change to Uber’s systems allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts. This allowed them to pick up passengers as though they were the booked driver, which occurred in at least 14,000 trips - putting THOUSANDS of passenger safety and security at risk.
This also meant that all the journeys were uninsured and some passenger journeys took place with unlicensed drivers, one of which had previously had their licence revoked by TfL.
Image credit: Greater London Authority