After many years of operating in London—Uber is being refused a new license for the upcoming year. The seemingly successful company was labeled as “unfit and improper” and will be not be granted a renewal.
Why was the Renewal Refused?
In 2017, the company began spinning a web of failures one after another. From Uber systems allowing unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts, hence having a different driver show up rather than the one the rider expected to be picked up by, to many others, such as suspended drivers continuing to work for Uber, that may put
passengers at risk. On Monday, the agency Transport for London (TfL) explained that not only have they discovered and proven these risks, they also say that the company has simply not done enough to correct these failures nor prevent new failures from coming. Uber has quickly become known and recognized in London as unsafe and unpredictable with its estimated 14,000 fraudulent trips in the city along from 2018-2019, despite its efforts in past years to achieve positive changes.
For a long time, London remained one of Uber’s top five global markets with 45,000 drivers in the city and 126,000 licensed private hires and black cabs in the capital. Thousands of people will be out of a job, and thousands more will be out of a ride. Luckily for both drivers and riders, there are other ride-share services in the city such as Bolt and Kapten, so majority of users will tap into these services instead. The unlicensed and uninsured drivers’ scouring the city must come to an end, and as for Uber in London, it has reached the last few weeks of legal operation.
On the latter, Uber claims the decision was “extraordinary and wrong,” and that millions of driver and riders rely on them everyday. While this is true and Uber has since made many changes in operation in London, the company is still clearly drawing just outside of the lines as far as rules and safety go.
24% of the previous years’ gross bookings came from just five cities: London, Los Angeles, New York, San Fransisco, and Sao Paulo. With this being said, it was expected of Uber to have taken greater initiative toward “fighting back” and working to renew the company’s license. As it turns out, Uber has a history of tussles with London regulators with many years of back and forth processes and approvals. The last string for Transport for London (TfL) was in fact in 2017, when the web of failures from Uber began; the agency declined the license renewal that year, citing that Uber’s approach to driver background checks and its failure to report criminal offenses involving drivers and passengers. At this time, Uber was granted a 15-month extension to rethink and redesign a better approach to safety; the company has since made several changes with a safety goal in mind: driver education courses for drivers, reformed process for reporting crimes, emergency-assistance button, and more. But, London claims this is not enough.
What Does the Future Hold?
So, will Uber ever operate successfully in London again? The answer cannot be said. The agency will need some solid proof and convincing. For now, the company is improving and bettering its operation process, whether that is for safety precautions or for more efficiency—can we really complain?