UBER loses licence to operate in London

Uber has been stripped of its licence to carry paying passengers in London on Monday for the second time in just over two years, pending an appeal, over a “pattern of failures” on safety and security. 

Unauthorised drivers were able to upload their photos to others’ accounts so that, on over 14,000 trips, a driver other than the advertised one picked up passengers, the regulator Transport for London (TfL) said. 

The ride-hailing firm immediately said it would appeal. The process is likely to include court action and could drag on for months, allowing Uber’s roughly 45,000 drivers in London, one of its most important markets, to keep taking rides despite its licence expiring on Monday. 

TfL said it had “identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk”, and that some journeys had been uninsured. 

“TfL does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time.” 

Uber, whose app-based ordering and demand-sensitive pricing have disrupted operators in many cities worldwide including drivers of London’s iconic black cabs, said its systems were robust and that it would also introduce a new facial matching process. 

“Over the last two years we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London,” tweeted CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over weeks before Uber first lost its London licence in 2017. 

“We have come very far — and we will keep going, for the millions of drivers and riders who rely on us.” 

Uber’s shares listed in Frankfurt were reported to be down over 3% at 1330 GMT. 

The Silicon Valley company has run into regulatory barriers and a backlash in several markets, forcing it to withdraw completely from places such as Copenhagen and Hungary. 

In London, black cab drivers who see Uber as a threat to their hard-won livelihoods have blocked streets in protest, arguing that thay are being unfairly undercut by an inferior service. 

The more than 22,000 “cabbies” are required to memorise the thousands of streets and landmarks within a six-mile radius of central London and pass a legendary test known as ‘The Knowledge’ in order to be licensed to pick up passengers on the street. 

A requirement since 1865, the process can be costly and takes on average three to four years to complete. Drivers for Uber and smaller rivals such as Kapten and Bolt, helped nowadays by satellite navigation apps, face no such stipulation. 

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