Is this the end for Uber in London?

By | Category: Travel rumblings

Black cab drivers object to Uber’s activities

Transport for London (TfL) has decided that Uber “not fit and proper” to hold a private vehicle hire licence. Consequently they have revoked its licence to operate in London as from 1st of October.

The statement from TfL says that “TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.”

What does this mean in plain English? Potential public safety implications could hide a multitude of sins as could the claim about security implications. That suggests that Uber isn’t vetting drivers sufficiently and that there is a concern that they might be using potential terrorists?

Sadiq Kham, Mayor of London, says “I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security. Any operator of private hire services in London needs to play by the rules.”

If it isn’t playing by the rules how is it that it has passed the regular checks that are made upon it. Why wasn’t Uber warned earlier that it was failing so that it mend its ways? What has worried TfL? Now mainstream media is saying that Uber is willing to comprimise.

Uber has become popular amongst Londoners and tourists because the price is known and you can track the drivers. It has caused dismay amongst black cab drivers about loss of business and the rights of the drivers it uses.

But Uber is not popular amongst trade unions and you do wonder whether there is an element of politics in this. Uber has hit back with a quasi-political approach. It started a petition which has now garnered more than 620,000 signatures (as of about 8am on Sunday) and calls for TfL to reconsider. B TfL has made some strong accusations that should be considered. It says that Uber isn’t necessarily reporting all serious criminal offences, it questions the thoroughness of background checks on drivers and criticises software it operates. The police take a similar view on background checks.

I suspect that there is more behind this story than meets the eye and maybe the days ahead will clarify the thinking at TfL.

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