Uber, the world’s largest taxi aggregator service is known for creating quite a negative news, no matter where their operation is. From India to America, Uber is notorious for bad PR. But then, Uber is one of the best thing happened to humanity as far as transportation is concerned. There’s now more bad news for the U.S originated technology company.
Uber operations in London, one of the world’s wealthiest cities has come to a halt as London has stripped Uber of its license to operate. This is a huge blow to the ride service and 3.5 million users availing the service in the capital of Britain. The capital's transport authority has said that the Silicon Valley technology giant was not fit and proper to hold a private vehicle hire license.
The license of the service will not be renewed when it expires on coming 30 September, 2017. Currently 40,000 drivers work for Uber under the third party vendors (members who own their own car) and account for the one-third of the private vehicles hired in the megacity. The drivers have said they will contest the decision, and the regulator Transport for London (TfL) will let it operate until the appeals process is exhausted.
"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," TfL said. The authority also cited that Uber has failed to report serious criminal offenses, driver’s background check and software called Greyball that could be used to block regulators from gaining full access to the app. "TfL must also be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a license.”
"Transport for London and the Mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice," said Tom Elvidge, Uber's general manager in London. "We intend to immediately challenge this in the courts."
The last few months were not good for Uber who is suffering from major image issue, including a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying at the San Francisco-based start-up that forced out former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick. Currently Uber is valued at about $70 billion and investors like Goldman Sachs back the company.
But it’s not only the above mentioned acquisitions that Uber has faced in the past. The company has faced protests around the world from the traditional taxi unions for shaking up long-established taxi markets. The taxi app has been forced to quit several countries, including Denmark and Hungary, and faced regulatory battles in multiple U.S. states and around the world, including India.
The same happened in London, where the traditional black cab drivers have attacked Uber, saying it has undercut safety rules and threatened their livelihoods. In fact, London police has also raised a complaint against Uber that they are either not disclosing, or taking too long, to report serious crimes including sexual assaults, and this put the public at risk.
Uber, on the other hand, has defended itself by saying that they undertake rigorous checks and balances as far as their drivers are concerned and follows all the TfL's rules on reporting serious incidents. They even has a dedicated team that worked closely with London's police. London Mayor Sadiq Khan, has backed the decision of terminating the license - "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," he said.
Uber has announced a series of changes over the last few months to improve conditions for its drivers, including the introduction of in-app tipping and plans to increase some fees. But it’s not only the drivers who are suffering. London's 3.5 million registered users have expressed concern as to how the TfL's decision would affect their lives.
We will keep you updated about the progress, so keep tuned!