Travel for London have been reviewing Uber’s license to operate in London for some months now. Yesterday their decision not to extend Uber’s private license further than the 30th September 2017 became public knowledge. As expected, this has caused quite a stir amongst Londoners, as Uber has become the majority of Londoners preferred hire car service since it was introduced to the city in 2012.
With Uber being such an affordable and easily accessible mode of transportation when the usual methods of public transport won’t suffice, the service really has opened up the possibilities of travel in the city of London. Additionally, it has made the option of hailing a ride more accessible to those who don’t feel safe or comfortable in a black cab, and also the less affluent Londoner who cannot afford to pay £15 to be driven down the road whilst sat in traffic. With that being said, Uber is not only used by the less affluent amongst us, and is often widely used by professionals as a more cost effective way to travel around the city for work.
Believe it or not, there are times when getting on the tube or bus for a few stops just isn’t feasible, so a Uber at a slightly higher cost often serves as the medium between travelling in the privacy of a car but not having to part with a great deal of money. With the Office For National Statistics showing a rise in the inflation rate which stands at 2.7% for the month of August 2017, there is no argument that the cost of living in London is continuously increasing, so why wouldn’t people want to save a few pounds where they can.
With that being said, as convenient and cost effective as Uber may be, we cannot put a price on safety, and there have been serious questions put forth about public safety, and Uber’s corporate responsibility and compliance to TfL regulations since May when Uber London Limited were granted a 4 month PH Operator Licence whilst TfL continued to consider Uber’s extension. A few of these concerns are listed as per below, but can also be found on the official TfL website.
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. These include:
- Its approach to reporting serious criminal offences.
- Its approach to how medical certificates are obtained.
- Its approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained.
- Its approach to explaining the use of Greyball in London – software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.
Unfortunately, these issues have not yet been resolved to a point where TfL are confident that Uber are fit and proper to a hold a private licence, so perhaps Londoners should also point the finger to Uber at this stage and seriously question what changes they have made or plan to make to restore the confidence of TfL. After all, it’s not all about money, and should also be about the safety of the customers who actually use the service.
This news of Uber’s London license not being extended definitely was not bad news for everyone, and probably feels like Christmas has come early for the black cab drivers in the city. Although the removal of Uber on London’s streets may seem like a great thing for them, it is worth noting that Londoners may instead choose not to get a cab at all, and/or compromise their safety further by getting into an unlicensed cab or walking because they refuse to play black cab prices. Apart from having a great knowledge of the streets of London, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Londoners to see the benefits of using black cabs as a source of travel because whether we like it or not, times have moved on and competitive prices seem to be more important than the knowledge of the cab driver.00
For all of those that are in favour of Uber in London, you are still able to use the service up until 30th September 2017. Additionally, if Uber do appeal the decision, it seems that The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 outlined below will give londoners the opportunity to continue to use the service until the appeal period ends. The Private Hire Vehicles (London) Act 1998 includes provision to appeal a licensing decision within 21 days of it being communicated to the applicant. Uber London Limited can continue to operate until any appeal processes have been exhausted.
Whilst many have signed the petition to keep Uber operating in London, could it be that the carelessness of Uber has reigned for a bit too long and more needs to be done by Uber to convince TfL? Furthermore, perhaps there is now an opportunity for other taxi apps in the city to gain some exposure and capitalise on this gap in the market?