Thursday 16 July 2020 10:00 am

Exclusive: Uber's UK boss 'optimistic' it will win back London licence

Uber’s UK boss is “optimistic” that the firm will win back its licence in the capital when courts decide in September.

Transport for London (TfL) banned the ride-hailing app in London at the end of last year. It said Uber had unlicensed operators upload photos on other people’s accounts, leading to at least 14,000 trips involving fraudulent drivers.

Read more: Uber launches world’s first Uber Boat with Thames Clippers

All these journeys were uninsured and some of the drivers were unlicensed, including one person who previously had their licence revoked by TfL.

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s general manager for the UK, Northern and Eastern Europe told City A.M.: “At the time we had informed TfL about this well in advance and it had been fixed and addressed by the time the decision was made which is why we disagreed [with the decision.]”

The case, which was originally due to be held this month, will be decided in September. TfL confirmed that the hearing would now run between the 14 and 17 September.

It is understood that the concerned parties agreed that the coronavirus pandemic meant that the original timetable for the appeal, which should have started on 6 July, was no longer viable.

Speaking on City A.M’s podcast, Heywood said: “I am optimistic. I think we need to continue to raise the bar on safety, always, and the job is never done”.

He added that the onset of the coronavirus pandemic had presented a “new realm for safety challenges”.

“We are trying to make sure we’re raising the bar on safety, not just those related to our court case and licence but in new areas”.

Read more: Uber to make face masks mandatory for all from Monday

Uber now requires all drivers and riders to wear a mask as part of safety measures due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some of the technology the firm implemented to verify drivers is now being used to ensure drivers are wearing masks.

Heywood was speaking as Uber’s biggest rival Kapten this morning launched its merged service with black cab app Free Now.

The new entity will give passenger access to 35,000 drivers and has a user base of 1.5m people, the firm said.

Since entering the UK market a year ago, Kapten has been clear in its aims to topple Uber as the country’s leading ride-hailing firm.

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