Transport for London (TfL) has decided not to renew Uber’s operating license.
The taxi regulator identified significant safety risks with the rideshare platform.
Unauthorised drivers had been able to upload their photo to the accounts of other drivers and pick up passengers on 14,000 occasions.
“This means all the journeys were uninsured and some passenger journeys took place with unlicensed drivers, one of which had previously had their licence revoked by TfL,” the regulator said in a statement.
“Another failure allowed dismissed or suspended drivers to create an Uber account and carry passengers, again compromising passenger safety and security.”
TfL recognised Uber’s efforts to improve its services but said the “potential safety risk to passengers of weak systems and processes” could not be overlooked when considering its license renewal.
Director of Licensing, Regulating and Charging at TfL, Helen Chapman, said the decision not to renew Uber’s license fundamentally came down to customer safety.
“While we recognise Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured,” she said.
“It is clearly concerning that these issues arose, but it is also concerning that we cannot be confident that similar issues won't happen again in future.”
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, echoed the TfL’s sentiment that the decision came down to rider safety.
“Keeping Londoners safe is my absolute number-one priority, and TfL have identified a pattern of failure by Uber that has directly put passengers’ safety at risk.
“There is undoubtedly a place for innovative companies in London – in fact we are home to some of the best in the world. But it is essential that companies play by the rules to keep their customers safe.”
My statement on TfL's Uber decision. pic.twitter.com/uMDjoIlqOW— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) November 25, 2019
Uber said it would appeal the TfL’s decision.
“TfL found us to be a fit and proper operator just two months ago, and we continue to go above and beyond,” Uber said in a statement.
“We have introduced new safety features in the app for riders and drivers, introduced free accident and injury protection for drivers, improved our governance and compliance.
“We think this decision is wrong and we will appeal.”
We have fundamentally changed our business over the last 2 years, setting the standard for safety in the industry. TfL’s decision on our London licence is wrong and we will appeal. Uber will continue to operate as normal. https://t.co/RKJQWWHTMq pic.twitter.com/GHE46VKXv4— Uber UK (@UberUK) November 25, 2019
45,000 drivers work through the rideshare platform in London to service 3.5 million users, according to Uber.
Uber reassured its drivers and customers that business will continue as usual during the appeal process.
Bumpy ride for Uber
Uber has had a year of ups and downs. Since its lacklustre IPO in May, Uber’s share price has dropped 30 per cent with the company posting losses of around $1 billion for each quarter in 2019.
In June, Uber announced it would trial flying taxis in Melbourne and two other US cities, but that Jetsons-like dream is still a long way off reality.
Meanwhile, its attempt to fully automate cars has been marred by revelations that software controlling Uber’s driverless test cars was riddled with bugs – including that it did not recognise jaywalking pedestrians.
The tough year for Uber has seen the company fire hundreds of staff with a number of top level executives also parting ways.