Transport for London, the governing transit body for the Greater London metro area, has decided to not renew Uber’s private-hire license, which will expire on September 30. Without a private-hire license, it will be illegal for drivers using the Uber app to pick up passengers.
In a press release, Transport for London outlined the reasoning behind its decision, saying it “concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.” It cited several reasons, including Uber’s procedure for reporting serious crimes, how it performs background checks on potential drivers, and Uber’s “Greyball” program, a tool it designed to identify and deceive government officials and regulators. (Uber admits to using the program, though it says it never used it in London.)
London’s mayor Sadiq Khan said he was behind the decision. “All companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect — particularly when it comes to the safety of customers,” he said in a statement to the press. “Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.”
Uber fired back in its own statement. “3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision,” said Tom Elvidge, Uber’s general manager in London. “By wanting to ban our app from the capital Transport for London and the Mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice.”
London’s Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, which represents London’s iconic black-cab drivers, hailed the decision. “Since it first came onto our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers,” a spokesperson said to the Independent. “We expect Uber will again embark on a spurious legal challenge against the Mayor and [Transport for London], and we will urge the court to uphold this decision. This immoral company has no place on London’s streets.”
Uber will have 21 days to appeal the decision in the courts, and will be allowed to continue to operate in the city until the appeals process is completed. Uber has been in London since 2013, while rivals such as Lyft and Juno have, to date, been unable to make entry into England’s largest city. That said, there are ride-hailing-app alternatives available to Londoners, including Gett, Kabbee, and MyTaxi.