Uber gets London taxi license back
The transport and taxi company, Uber, has its taxi license back in London. A British court ruled that the American company has done enough to comply with the conditions. Uber had lost its license last year because Transport for London (TfL), which issues the licenses in the British capital, found the company to be in repeated default.
The judge decided to grant the ride-hailing company a license for a year and a half. The ruling is an important victory for Uber, which had appealed against the earlier decision. London is one of the most important markets for the company. The company has 45 000 drivers and more than 3,5 million customers in the British capital.
A judge rules that Uber may now legitimately operate in the British capital “despite past failings”. The transport agency TfL had withdrawn the license in November for safety reasons, but Uber nevertheless continued to operate pending the court’s ruling. TfL found that the computer system could not prevent thousand of unlicensed drivers from fraudulently transport passengers.
Uber had assured the authority that it had since made the necessary changes to resolve their problems. Judge Tan Ikram of the London Court of Westminster Magistrates said on Monday, in his ruling, that Uber did not dispute the TfL’s assertion, but had difficulty with the agency’s assertion that Uber did not take the security problems seriously.
The judge said that Uber “now appears to be at the forefront of the industry” to make its services safer and has made the necessary efforts.
Uber, whose image had suffered from cases of sexual assault of female passengers by drivers, has introduced real-time verification of the identity of drivers in the UK. It has also been trying for several years to reassure its clients, for example, by introducing an “emergency button” or a telephone line to report problems, writes AFP.
In 2017, Uber also lost its license in London. Following an appeal, the company was then granted in June 2018 a 15-month extension, subject to 14 conditions. In September 2019, TfL renewed the license, but only for two months.
The company now has to meet 20 conditions, following the addition of six last year, mainly about checking drivers’ identity and checking for insurance fraud.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan reminds on his Twitter account that he supported TfL’s decision in November. “I am pleased that Uber has admitted that it did not adequately address passengers’ concerns and has since improved matters,” he said.
The taxi driver’s association, for its part, which has been on a collision course with Uber for some time, has taken a stand against the court decision, which it described as a “catastrophe”, believing that the changes introduced by Uber are nothing more than window dressing.
Glim of hope
Uber is also awaiting another court decision in the UK, that of the British Supreme Court, which is due to rule shortly on whether it will recognize the status of platform drivers as employees, which Uber is opposed to.
The victory obtained on his right to practice in London is a bright spot for the Californian platform in a sky very darkened by the Covid-19 pandemic and while competition is raging in London with the Indian Ola and the Estonian Bolt.
Investors were not mistaken, and the share jumped 3% in the first trades on Wall Street.
In August, Uber reported that revenue from its ride-hailing business had fallen 67 % from a year earlier. The U.S. company incurred a net loss of 1,8 billion dollars in the second quarter as a result of containment measures and the cancellation of most events and travel.
The platform laid off approximately a quarter of its employees in the spring and shut down operations in many countries to save money. And for the first time in history, meal deliveries, via its subsidiary Uber Eats, brought in more money than journeys with drivers during the lockdown.