Monday 28 September 2020 11:08 am

Uber wins bid to regain London operating licence

Uber has won its legal bid to regain its licence to operate in London after a long-running court battle.

Deputy senior district judge Tan Ikram said that despite its previous failings, the firm was now “fit and proper” to hold a licence.

Ikram decided to give the firm a licence to operate for 18 months, with 21 conditions attached.

Responding to the decision Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, said: 

“This decision is a recognition of Uber’s commitment to safety and we will continue to work constructively with TfL.

“There is nothing more important than the safety of the people who use the Uber app as we work together to keep London moving.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan said that TfL would continue to monitor the firm: 

“Public safety is paramount, so TfL was absolutely right not to renew Uber’s licence last November after identifying failures that directly put passengers in danger.

“I am pleased that Uber have admitted that their response to very real concerns about passenger safety was inadequate, and since then Uber has made improvements.

“I can assure Londoners that TfL will continue to closely monitor Uber and will not hesitate to take swift action should they fail to meet the strict standards required to protect passengers.”

In 2019, Transport for London refused to renew the ride-hailing app’s license to operate in the capital after what it called a “pattern of failures”.

The Silicon Valley firm appealed the decision, saying that it had improved its security features in response to the complaints.

Uber said it had improved systems to verify drivers’ insurance documents and launched real-time identification in the app.

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When it denied the firm a new license, TfL alleged more than 14,000 trips were taken between 2018 and 2019 by unauthorised drivers, using loopholes in Uber’s systems to share apps and cars by changing their identification photos.

Business group London First said that the decision was “good news” for the people of the capital.

“As TfL recognised last year, Uber has taken significant steps to improve its operations and safety in London. This Court ruling recognises these important enhancements to its service.

“On demand transport services are here to stay, and TfL and private companies like Uber must continue to work together to enable safe and responsible innovation on our roads.”

However, Labour MP Wes Streeting slammed the decision, saying that any other operator would have lost their licence.

“If a Black Taxi driver or minicab operator had flouted the rules like Uber, they’d have lost their licence”, he tweeted.

“It’s one rule for them and another for the tax-avoiding, rule-flouting multinational company based in San Francisco. This decision stinks.”

Taxi driver association the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), an interested party in the case, agreed, calling the decision a “disaster for London”.

Uber first lost its licence in London in 2017, and had since been operating on a 15-month probationary licence. It then received a two-month licence in September last year, before failing to gain an extension from TfL in November.