Industry leaders and local politicians mainly showed their support today for Transport for London’s (TfL) decision to ban Uber from the capital.
London’s regulators announced today that it will not grant the minicab firm a new private hire operator’s licence following its latest application.
TfL did say 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.
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “I support the decision by TfL’s licensing officials today in relation to Uber and completely understand why the decision was taken. Keeping Londoners safe is my absolute number-one priority, and TfL have identified a pattern of failure by Uber that has directly put passengers’ safety at risk.
“There is undoubtedly a place for innovative companies in London - in fact we are home to some of the best in the world. But it is essential that companies play by the rules to keep their customers safe.
“Only in the last few months it has been established that 14,000 Uber journeys have involved fraudulent drivers uploading their photos to other driver accounts – with passengers’ safety potentially put at risk getting into cars with unlicensed and suspended drivers. At this stage TfL can’t be confident that Uber has the robust processes in place to prevent another serious safety breach in the future.
“I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users but their safety is the paramount concern. Regulations are there to keep Londoners safe, and fully complying with TfL’s strict standards is essential if private hire operators want a licence to operate in London.”
Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said: “The Mayor has absolutely made the right decision in refusing to re-license Uber, and Londoners will be safer as a result.
“Unfit operators cannot get away with deliberately shirking their responsibilities. Uber have had 17 months to comply with the conditions of their temporary licence, and yet they have continually put Londoners at risk by letting drivers on the road who aren’t properly licensed or insured.”
A spokesperson from black taxi app service FREE NOW, said: “TfL’s decision to take away Uber’s license represents a significant step towards the high quality transport network that Londoners deserve. In making this decision, TfL has decided that passenger safety is the highest priority.
“FREE NOW, the UK’s leading cab app welcomes this decision. It provides a significant boost for the taxi trade, which has provided a safe service from drivers for centuries. With their unbeatable knowledge of London’s streets and an unparalleled experience in terms of service, speed, reliability, and accessibility. All the while without surging prices.”
Tom Copley, Labour Assembly Member, said: “Uber were given a chance to prove that they could keep their passengers safe - and yet we find out today that 14,000 Uber journeys have involved fraudulent drivers uploading their photos to other driver accounts... It's just not good enough.”
Steve Garelick, GMB Regional Officer said: “As a result of sustained pressure from drivers and the public, Uber has suffered yet another defeat – losing its license to operate in London.
“The company finally has to face up to the consequences of GMB’s landmark employment tribunal victory and change its ways.
“Uber pulled more stunts than a Hollywood movie, now it’s time for them to accept their responsibilities.
“We fully expect the Supreme Court to uphold the ruling of the Employment Tribunal, the Employment Appeal Tribunal and the Court of Appeal on driver’s worker rights in July.
“GMB wants to protect honest drivers, but perhaps time for them to look elsewhere to work.”
However, not all minicab representatives and Assembly Members agreed with the decision and some showed concern for Uber's 45,000 drivers who they say work in precarious conditions.
James Farrar, Chair of the United Private Hire Drivers Branch of the IWGB union, said: "Many will now face the distress of facing not only unemployment but also crippling debt as they struggle to meet car lease payments.
"The terrible price of Transport for London’s inability to run a stable regulatory regime and Uber’s refusal to play by the rules will be paid for by the most vulnerable workforce in London. We are asking for an urgent meeting with the Mayor to discuss what mitigation plan can now be put in place to protect Uber drivers."
Andrew Boff, Conservative Assembly Member, shared concerns saying: “Scrooge has come early this year with Sadiq Khan's decision to remove Uber's licence to operate in London.
“This decision strips more than 40,000 drivers of their livelihood, denies Londoners a choice of transport, and will discourage innovation in our city.”