Is London open for business? For the most part, the answer is yes! However, according to some, it’s closed to disruptive technologies which threaten established industries. One such technology/app is Uber, the renowned taxi-hailing service, that anyone can use to earn a few pound more in their spare time.
Uber Under Attack
Why? In the last few day’s Uber is in the headlines again, but this time its terrible news for its users and 40,000 London drivers. In a nutshell, TFL (Transport for London) has decided not to renew its operating licence in the capital. This effectively puts those 40,000 drivers out of work and access to cheaper cabs out of the reach of consumers.
When will this come into effect? Uber’s current operating licence runs out at midnight on September 30th. So, from the 1st of October, it can no longer legally operate in the U. K’s capital.
Why has TFL done this?
On Friday morning, Transport for London announced that it would not renew Uber’s London operating licence, in its own words it said:
“Uber is not a fit and proper company to hold a licence, it shows a consistent lack of corporate responsibility on many issues. As such, Public safety and security implications have forced us to revoke its application.”
What are the known issues?
When pushed to give clarity on this, London Mayor Sadiq Khan came to the forefront to deliver it. According to the research done by TFL, the police and reports from users, Uber has obvious problems, which are:
- How it reports criminal offences
- Driver background checks
- The use of Greyball software, designed to evade regulators
Uber first arrived in London back in 2012 and instantly began to disrupt the official Black Cab industry. Unlike Cabbies, Uber users/drivers did not have to take any tests or learn London’s roads. They could just download the app to a smartphone, register and begin picking up passengers.
Ever since Uber has been on a collision course with regulators, who see the benefits, but who also want to control/mitigate its impact. Unlike traditional Taxi services, Uber uses GPS technology to link smartphone users to its service, meaning that within a few taps a ride can be arranged. Which is just one of the reasons London Black Cabbies have threatened to take legal action should it regain its licence.
The Reaction against the Ban
Since the news reached the mainstream press and social media on Friday, the reaction has been somewhat mixed. However, Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, had the following to say on Twitter:
The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan issued this statement:
Outside of social media, Telegraph reader Finnian Manson said:
“What a bonanza for the powerful lobby in the black cab industry. 3.5 million Londoners at their mercy.
So, we can now expect black cab fares to increase significantly and needless to say there will be an awful lot of people unable to get transport when and where they need it.
This is a bad day for London and Londoners and is quite clearly a politically motivated decision. I do hope Uber appeals and if necessary thereafter if that fails applies for a judicial review.”
The Reaction for the Ban
As was mentioned previously, the response to this ban has been mixed, with the majority coming out against it. However, there has also been considerable cheer for Uber’s predicament, such as the following:
On Twitter, @jantalipinski said:
And @UnitedCabbies said:
What Can Uber do to Regain Its License?
When the news first arrived at Uber HQ, in California U.S.A, it was greeted with shock, but not bewilderment. After all, this was the latest shot across its bow in an ongoing battle. However, the company immediately pledged to fight the decision, for which it then had 21-days to lodge an appeal.
In doing so, this would for the time being stay the loss of its licence until the challenge is won-or-lost. Meaning that its 3.5-million users and 40,000 drivers can continue to benefit.
However, that is not where it ends, as Uber has significant resources, and has already put them to use. To start, it started a petition on. This petition calls upon London Mayor, Sadiq Khan to reconsider TFL’s findings, as of writing this, it has 735,929 signatures.
In addition to the above, it has employed an army of PR experts and Lawyers to pick through TFL’s decision and to spread information. As such, the London Mayor has hit out, at what he sees as heavy-handed tactics against the authority.
The Mayor has said:
“Uber has put unfair pressure on Transport for London, with an army of lawyers and PR experts. It has threatened to take TFL to court.”
Which if the company does lose its appeal to overturn the licence decision may be its only course of future action.