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Uber loses licence in London after “several breaches” identified

Uber has 21 days to appeal after losing licence to operate in London

Uber has lost its licence to operate in London after being found “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.”

Regulator Transport for London (TfL) identified several breaches, with the main issue being a change made to Uber’s systems that allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts.

This meant they could pick up passengers as though they were the booked driver, which occurred in at least 14,000 trips, putting passenger safety and security at risk.

As a result, all the journeys were also uninsured. 

Another issue highlighted was that the system allowed dismissed or suspended drivers to create an Uber account and carry passengers, again compromising passenger safety and security.

The Chief Magistrate granted Uber a licence in June 2018 and the firm is believed to have made a number of positive changes to their systems, culture and leadership since.

TfL haa stated, however, it’s a concern that Uber’s systems seem to have been comparatively easily manipulated.

Alongside this, the regulator is believed to have identified a pattern of failures by the company including several other breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk.

Despite improvements being implemented, TfL has stated it does 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.”

Uber was granted a two-month licence in September, as further information was required on these issues, some of which emerged late in the process of its reapplication.

Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging at TfL, Helen Chapman said: “As the regulator of private hire services in London we are required to make a decision today on whether Uber is fit and proper to hold a licence. Safety is our absolute top priority.

“While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.

“It is clearly concerning that these issues arose, but it is also concerning that we cannot be confident that similar issues won’t happen again in future.”

Uber has 21 days to appeal and will continue to operate during that period.

The firm are allowed to implement changes to demonstrate to a magistrate that it is fit and proper by the time of the appeal.

While Uber continues to operate, TfL will continue to closely scrutinise the private hire operator, which includes the need for Uber to meet conditions set by the regulator in September 2019.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, 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.

“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.”

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