Taxi app Uber wins back London licence despite ‘historical failings’

REUTERS/Luisa Gonzalez

Uber has won a legal bid to restore its London operating licence which was taken away over safety concerns, after a judge ruled on Monday that the company was a fit and proper operator despite “historical failings”.

Transport for London (TfL) refused to grant the Silicon Valley-based company a new licence in 2019 due to what it called a “pattern of failures”, including thousands of trips conducted where drivers other than those advertised picked up passengers.

Uber argued it has since assuaged concerns by improving insurance document verification systems and rolling out real-time identification.

The U.S. company was also denied a licence by TfL in 2017, in a major blow in one of its most important markets, before it was restored on a probationary basis.

“I am satisfied that they are doing what a reasonable business in their sector could be expected to do, perhaps even more,” Judge Tan Ikram said on Monday.

“Despite their historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London… operator’s licence,” he said, granting an 18-month right to take rides.

Uber, which has apologised for mistakes it has made, has run into backlashes and regulatory challenges elsewhere, including in its home state of California.

Shares in Uber rose 6% in pre-market U.S. trading after the decision.

“This decision is a recognition of Uber’s commitment to safety and we will continue to work constructively with TfL,” Jamie Heywood, Uber‘s boss for Northern and Eastern Europe, said.

In London, it faces a number of rivals, including Ola, Freenow and Bolt.

The city’s traditional black cab drivers have blocked streets in protest at what they see as a threat to their livelihoods.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who also chairs TfL, warned Uber on Monday to stick to its obligations.

“I can assure Londoners that TfL will continue to closely monitor Uber and will not hesitate to take swift action should they fail to meet the strict standards required to protect passengers,” he said in a statement.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.