UBER, which just days ago said it needed its fleet in London to be hybrid or electric powered by 2020, could be booted out of the British capital altogether.
In a shock move, Transport for London has rejected Uber’s application to renew its licence – and its current licence expires on September 30.
However, the move has been criticised by customers, drivers and even some government ministers.
Transport for London (TfL) said the ride-sharing company was not a ‘fit and proper’ operator, citing a ‘lack of corporate responsibility in relation to reporting serious criminal offences, obtaining medical certificates and driver background checks.’
Another problem was Uber’s use of Greyball software, which can prevent regulatory bodies from gaining access to its app.
Uber says it will challenge the ruling in the courts.
It can continue to operate in London – where it has 3.5 million users – until it gets a court decision, which could be quite a while.
The decision by TfL was backed by the London mayor, Sadiq Khan and the capital’s traditional cabbies.
Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association, said the mayor had made the right decision.
‘Since it first came on to our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers. This immoral company has no place on London’s streets,’ he said.
But Trade Minister Greg Hands was less than happy.
‘At the flick of a pen Sadiq Khan is threatening to put 40,000 people out of work and leave 3.5 million users of Uber stranded,’ he said.
‘A blanket ban will cause massive inconvenience to millions of Londoners, all while showing that the Mayor of London is closed to business and innovation.’
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi appealed to Londoners to ‘work with us’ in solving the issue.
‘It’s critical that we act with integrity in everything we do, and learn how to be a better partner to every city we operate in,’ he said
‘We will vigorously appeal TfL’s decision and show that Uber is not just a really great product, but a really great company that is meaningfully contributing to society, beyond its business and its bottom line.’
London is one of Uber’s most important markets, but it’s not alone on trying to remove Uber from its streets.
Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary and Italy all have banned or suspended Uber and in Austin, Texas, authorities demanded all Uber drivers undergo fingerprint and background checks.
But Uber declined, and left.
In China, the Uber operation was bought out by a rival company.