The top transport authority in the United Kingdom’s capital has stated that they will not re-issue a “private-car hire license” to Uber Technologies Inc. when it expires at the end of September.
The authority claimed Uber was unfit to operate, stating that the company's “approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have public safety and security implications.”
Uber has stated that they will appeal the authority’s decision, which allows them to continue operating past the expiration date of their current permit (September 30, 2017) due to expected lengthy court proceedings.
Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber’s operations in London, said that the authority is adhering to pressures from a small group of people “who wanted to restrict customer choice,” and implied that proper consideration was not being given to “3.5 million Londoners who use our app” or to the over 40,000 Uber drivers that use the service as a source of income.
The authority claimed that Uber failed in its approaches in handling criminal offenses but did not provide any specific incidents. The authority also cited Uber’s “Greyball” program as further evidence that the company is unfit to operate in London. The Greyball program was a software developed by Uber to avoid government officials seeking to detect and block Uber services in specific areas like Portland, Oregon.
The denial of the private-car hire license to Uber is another focal point in the city’s disruptive history with the app based service. When Uber arrived in London in 2012, it was met with resistance by drivers of the city’s established black cabs. In 2014 many of the same drivers protested the car-hailing service in Trafalgar Square, bringing traffic to a halt for the better part of the day.
Londoners who use Uber’s services were surprised by the decision, citing that Uber’s popularity was continuously increasing due to its affordability, especially when compared to the price of a black cab ride.