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Uber Acquires Permit to Operate in London Following Court Ruling

Car and Driver logo Car and Driver 9/28/2020 Colin Beresford
a view of a city street filled with traffic surrounded by tall buildings: Transport for London stripped Uber of its operating license in the city after falling short in screening new drivers, but a judge has overruled that decision. © Kiva Huang Transport for London stripped Uber of its operating license in the city after falling short in screening new drivers, but a judge has overruled that decision.
  • Transport for London (TFL) has pulled Uber's permission to operate in London, saying it allowed at least 14,000 trips by people who presented themselves as official Uber drivers but were not.
  • There are 45,000 authorized drivers and 3.5 million regular users in the Uber London network.
  • TFL also didn't renew Uber's license to operate back in 2017, citing Uber's lack of corporate responsibility, but the ride-sharing service was granted permission on appeal.

UPDATE 9/28/2020: A judge overturned Transport for London's decision to strip Uber of its operating license, ruling that Uber is "fit and proper" to operate in the city despite past shortcomings. The judge granted Uber an 18 month license to operate in the city.

UPDATE 12/13/2019: Uber has a filed an appeal to regain its license to operate in London. While the appeal process is ongoing, which could take months or even years, according to Reuters, Uber's drivers are allowed to continue to drive in the city.

For the second time in two years, Uber’s ability to operate in London is in jeopardy. Transport for London (TFL), the authority responsible for transportation in the city, said that Uber "is not fit and proper at this time" to operate in the city after it found the company allowed riders to take at least 14,000 trips with people falsely presenting themselves as licensed Uber drivers.


Video: Uber wins back right to operate in London (Reuters)

The unauthorized drivers were able to upload their photos to actual driver’s accounts, which in turn led to passengers riding with drivers who were not who the passengers thought they were. TFL said after it had "identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk," it was not confident the lapse wouldn’t occur again, so Uber’s license in the city was not renewed. TFL also noted that the Uber allowed dismissed or suspended drivers to create a separate Uber account and operate again.

Uber said that it would appeal the decision; the company has three weeks to do so, during which it can continue to operate in the city. Uber has reportedly 45,000 drivers in London and around 3.5 million people who regularly use the service.

CNN reported today that Uber intends to introduce a "facial matching" process in London to help confirm the identity of drivers.

Back in 2017, Uber’s application to continue operating in London was rejected as a result of what the government claimed was Uber’s lack of corporate responsibility when it came to reporting criminal offenses, how medical certificates are obtained, and driver background checks.

London is famous for the strict standards that its 22,000 regular taxi drivers must meet. "The Knowledge" is the name for the test that applicants for taxi licenses must pass. It requires them to memorize thousands of streets and routes in central London and takes most people three to four years to master. Countering that, Uber drivers are relying only on phone navigation apps.

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