The future of Uber in London is unclear after the city’s transport regulator, Transport for London (TfL) stripped their license today.
While Uber plans to appeal this decision, and has 21 days to do so, the news already did some damage to their reputation. Since the news was announced, shares for Uber dropped about 1%.
This is a huge deal for Uber. In London, their largest European market, they have around 3.5 million passengers and 45,000 drivers. However, since Uber is making an appeal, the day-to-day of Uber will remain the same for riders and drivers for the time being. Uber representatives say that they are working to keep the user experience stable, so no one will feel the changes until/if the appeal is unsuccessful.
It’s not a total shock that TfL is dropping this bomb because they already did it back in 2017. Uber had its London license suspended back then because of concerns for their “approach to safety.” However, after the appeal, they were granted two temporary licenses, one for a length of 15 months, and one for two months that they received in September. It has been Ubers goal since the first revocation to tighten up their processes and ensure that they remain up to code going forward.
TfL acknowledges the positive progress that Uber has made, however, they consistently see patterns of failure that cause concern over their passengers’ safety. Despite the changes, they aren’t confident problems won’t continue to pop up leading them to “conclude that the company is not fit and proper at the time.”
One of these concerns was at least 14,000 trips that were left uninsured, some with an unlicensed driver, due to a change in Uber’s identification system that let unauthorized drivers upload their picture to other drivers’ accounts and pick up a passenger they were not assigned to.
Uber responded, saying that this move is “extraordinary and wrong.” They claim that it is unfair, because they have taken many steps to improve safety measures, including an upcoming facial recognition system, and they were just deemed fit 2 months ago when they were granted a temporary license. (But I mean… it was temporary, not a permanent license).
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Hannah Michelle Lambert is the Social Media + Events Coordinator at Worthix, as well as the host of the monthly CX News Recap segment. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan.