3.5 million Londoners use Uber regularly and there is still this mistaken idea that democracy is simply ticking a box every four years. It’s not. We do not give elected politicians free rein between elections, rather we expect them to listen and do their very best to implement the will of the people. However, Transport for London and Mayor Sadiq Khan recently informed Uber London Limited that it will not be issued with a private hire operator license after the expiration of its current license on September 30th, 2017. As of now, Transport for London has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private-hire-operator license. This company considers Uber’s approach and conduct as demonstrating a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues, which have potential public safety and security implications. The Private Hire Vehicles (of London) Act in 1988 includes a provision to appeal a licensing decision within 21 days of its communication to the applicant. Uber London Limited can continue to operate until any appeal processes have been exhausted of all efforts.
Mayor Khan stated: “I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service.” However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards they expect, particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not always be at the expense of customer safety and security.
The overall decision is likely to be welcomed by Uber’s growing critics, who argue the company has exacerbated London’s traffic congestion and done little to address incidents of violence involving its drivers. According to the police, they have failed to handle serious allegations of rape and sexual assault of passengers. Uber drivers must be reminded of their basic rights and responsibilities as drivers. All together, Uber in London is starting to demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility. In the end, this will have a huge impact on the company’s global business.
Switching gears to the London perspective, 3.5 million Londoners who use the app and more than 40,000 licensed drivers, who rely on Uber to make a living will be greatly impacted by this decision. In banning the app from the capitol, the decision will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport. Fortunately, London has a (fairly) good public transportation system, but, even so, Uber has made a big difference to many tourists. Although London is open, this decision also sends a powerful message that London is still slightly closed to innovative companies, competition, and business.