London Pulls Uber’s License to Operate in the City

But the ride-sharing company plans to appeal that ruling.

byStephen Edelstein|
Car Tech photo

London's transportation agency will not renew Uber's operator license, meaning the ride-sharing company will not be able to operate in the British capital after next week, reports Reuters

Transport for London (TfL) made the decision after calls from politicians to ban Uber from the city. Uber's license expires at the end of the month, and without it, the company will have no legal way to operate in London. 

TfL said Uber was "not fit and proper" to hold an operator license, specifically citing what the agency viewed as lax policies for reporting crimes and conducting background checks of drivers. TfL also cited "Greyball," the software that Uber has been accused of using to evade government regulators in the U.S.

"Uber's approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications," a TfL statement said. London Mayor Sadiq Khan supported the decision, saying that "it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners' safety and security."

User's 40,000 London drivers account for one third of private-car hires in the city, according to Reuters, and the company claims to have 3.5 million London users.

Uber plans to appeal the decision, and TfL will let it operate until the appeals process is exhausted.

"Transport for London and the Mayor have caved into a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice," Tom Elvidge, Uber's general manager in London, told Reuters. "We intend immediately to challenge this in the courts."

The revocation of Uber's license will likely be a hit with London's taxi drivers, who view Uber as unfair competition because the ride-sharing service isn't as heavily regulated as taxis. But Uber's estimated 3.5 million London users may be less enthusiastic. As in other world cities, Uber has grown popular in London because of its convenience.

Uber continues to shamble from one crisis to another. In the U.S., the company is still locked in a legal battle with Waymo over the alleged theft of self-driving car data, and faces investigations related to alleged bribery of foreign officials, and use of software to track drivers from rival Lyft.