Uber has responded to Transport for London’s announcement that it will not renew the company’s licence to operate in the UK capital.
In a statement, Uber said that banning its operations in London would, “show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers.” Uber vowed to challenge the ruling. It has 21 days to lodge an appeal.
Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in London, said: “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.
“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. If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.
“To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.
“Drivers who use Uber are licensed by Transport for London and have been through the same enhanced DBS background checks as black cab drivers.”
Uber argued that its technology enhances rather than reduces safety. It said it had always followed TfL rules on reporting serious incidents and worked closely with the Metropolitan Police.
“As we have already told TfL, an independent review has found that ‘greyball’ has never been used or considered in the UK for the purposes cited by TfL,” Mr Elvidge added.
Greyball is a controversial technology Uber used in the US that allowed it to operate in markets where it was not licensed by identifying and avoiding local officials. TfL cited it is as one of the reasons for not renewing Uber’s licence, along with the company’s approach to reporting criminal offences and obtaining medical certificates and obtaining criminal records checks.
The transport authority announced on Friday that it was not renewing Uber’s licence to operate in London, dealing a sharp blow to the ride hailing app, tens of thousands of UK-based drivers and a sprawling customer base. Uber’s current licence runs out on 30 September but the company will allowed to continue to operate until the appeals process is concluded.
In a damning statement, the transport authority said that its regulation of London’s taxi and private hire trades is designed to ensure passenger safety.
Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate that they do so, in order to operate, it said. It also said that it must be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a licence.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan countered Uber’s accusation that the capital was closed to innovative businesses.
Responding to TfL’s announcement on Friday, he said: “I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service.
“However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standard we expect – particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.
“I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to licence Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security. Any operators or private hire services in London need to play by the rules.”