Yesterday, news came out that the London taxi authority, Transport for London (TfL) announced they would not renew their license for Uber to operate in London.
Their decision was based on what they said was Uber being “not fit and proper” to operate in London. According to Bloomberg, “The agency cited a failure to do proper background checks on drivers, report crimes and a program called “Greyball” used to avoid regulators.” Their current license expires September 30.
London Says “NO!” to Uber
It was just a few months ago that Uber received a four month license to continue to operate and, apparently, many were shocked at TfL’s decision to not renew it again. The taxi companies have a lot of pull in London and this is very clearly a win for them as they fight against the huge Uber ride-sharing service.
Uber said that they have 40,000 drivers that will now be out of work but it may be a little more complicated for Uber than that. While Uber has long insisted that their drivers are “self-employed contractors” a union for drivers has said that they should be considered employees of Uber. This classification would allow them to receive more benefits and pay obligations from Uber so some of them may be hoping this ban helps Uber to adjust their position on some of these things if they hope to have the strong backing of drivers going forward, and likely from the regulatory body as well.
In a 90 day period, Uber received 3.5 million riders in London making it one of their biggest markets. Already, 500,000 people have signed a petition to call for Uber to be allowed to continue to operate (no word on how many of those are actually in London). It will clearly disrupt both the drivers, the locals, and the many tourists who feel comfortable when they can pull up the familiar Uber app and call a vehicle without having to touch cash or a credit card.
Uber Is Not Done Yet
Uber has 21 days to appeal and they already said they will definitely be appealing. While they are appealing, they will be allowed to continue to operate. This is in spite of their current license expiring in 7 days.
What does this mean if you are traveling to London? Until the appeal process is concluded, you will still be able to use Uber. I am sure Uber will put out some statement when it is decided what will happen with them for a more permanent situation.
Uber has become incredibly rich and powerful and my guess is that they may make some concessions to continue to operate in London. London is a very profitable market for them and they “employ” many thousands of drivers who use Uber as their sole source of income. While the Mayor of London and the Transport for London are against Uber, time will tell if Uber’s supporters win out.
As a traveler, what is your thoughts about Uber’s denial to continue in London? If you live in London, what do you think about this decision?
Featured image courtesy of MAHATHIR MOHD YASIN / Shutterstock.com