Uber is fighting to keep a presence in London, the U.K. capitol. For the company, London is one of their top five largest markets. In mid-November 2019, Transport for London (TFL) stripped Uber of their license allowing them to operate within the city’s limits.
Transport for London originally denied Uber’s license renewal in September 2017. The company approached judges and made a case to be placed on a fifteen month probation period to give them time to make the necessary adjustments to their operations. Uber has been making improvements to the app and the service, but they have failed to meet the standards desired by license authorities and have been on several probation periods since the September 2017 decision. In September 2019, Uber received a short two month probation period to fix one of their latest issues. After the most recent probation period ended, TFL chose not to renew the company’s license on Monday, November 25, 2019.
TFL declined the license renewal on the basis of persistent safety problems and a “pattern of failures.” One of the largest and most public incidents was a vulnerability within the app. This vulnerability allowed over 14,000 trips to be taken by passengers, who were driven by over 43 drivers with fake identities within the Uber app. These issues occurred mostly between late 2018 and early 2019; however, Transport for London’s decision was bolstered by proof of an occurrence in November 2019. Of the 43 fraudulent drivers operating under the Uber name were people with revoked licenses and one who had shared indecent images of children. TFL did not offer an extension to the license, even though Uber had addressed some of the issues. There is a lack of confidence in Uber’s ability and desire to make the necessary changes to ensure the issues will not recur.
Uber appealed the transportation authority’s decision almost immediately. Ubers can still be found on the streets and be used for all your ridesharing needs while the appeals process plays out, which could take quite a while. Proceedings have been going on since November 2019 and could continue for months to come.
London is Uber’s most lucrative city in Europe. The lack of a license to operate would be a very big blow to the company’s bottom line. They currently have 45,000 drivers working in London alone, which is a significant portion of the total 126,000 black cabs and private hire cars within city limits. Uber is appealing TFL’s decision not to renew their license. The process could be quite long and drawn out. Though, Uber is not the only ridesharing company in London; they’re not even the most popular. Bolt and Kapten are the current leading rideshare providers in the London Market, but Uber could rival them if the appeal for their license is accepted.