Is Uber really being banned in London? Here’s everything you need to know

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Moya Crockett
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In a shock move, Uber has had its license to operate revoked by Transport for London.

TfL made the announcement on Friday, saying that Uber will not be issued with another private hire operator license after its current license expires on 30 September.

The transport regulator said that it has made its decision based on concerns about Uber’s “approach and conduct” and passenger safety. It concluded that Uber had shown “a lack of corporate responsibility” with regard to potential safety and security issues.  

“Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate,” said TfL in a statement, adding: “TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license.”

TfL said that Uber’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and obtaining medical certificates had contributed to its decision.

It also said that Uber had a problematic attitude towards criminal record checks, known as Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks, and cited concerns about the tech firm’s use of Greyball, a custom-build secret software tool that allowed drivers to evade law enforcement.

In a statement posted on Twitter, London mayor Sadiq Khan said that he did not want TfL’s decision to be interpreted as a sign that London is not welcoming to innovative technology companies.

However, he said that he “fully [supported] TfL’s decision”, adding: “Any operator of private hire services in London needs to play by the rules.”

Uber is the world’s largest taxi-hailing app, and currently has more than 40,000 drivers in London. Some 3.5 million Londoners use the app, according to the Evening Standard.

However, TfL’s announcement does not mean that Uber will suddenly disappear from London’s streets. The firm has 21 days to appeal the regulator’s decision, and will be allowed to continue operating during this period and throughout any ensuing legal process, which is likely to be lengthy.

During this time, app users will still be able to order and travel in Ubers as normal.

On social media, reactions to TfL’s announcement were mixed. Many people bemoaned the fact that London could lose an affordable, convenient and relatively safe form of private transport.

However, others pointed out that Uber has a long history of murky ethical practices with regard to how it treats its employees, and that the company has allegedly repeatedly refused to cooperate with TfL and the Met Police. Others noted that black cabs are not the only alternative to the app.

Images: Pexels