Uber’s London licence renewed for two months

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Mobile phone with Uber app in front of Big BenImage copyright
Reuters

Taxi booking firm Uber has had its right to operate in London extended for two months.

The firm lost its licence in 2017 due to public safety concerns, after which a judge granted a 15-month extension which was due to expire on Wednesday.

Transport for London (TfL) said its licence would now be renewed temporarily while it requested additional information from the firm.

Uber must also meet new conditions on passenger safety, it said.

It means the taxi firm must wait until November to find out if it will be granted another full five-year licence. If it is not, the firm may have to close its London business.

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, said Uber would “continue to work closely with TfL and provide any additional requested information”.

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He added: “Over the past two years, we’ve launched a range of new safety features in the app, introduced better protections for drivers and our clean air plan is helping to tackle air pollution.”

But the GMB union, which represents Uber drivers, said the firm has had “more chances than a game of monopoly”.

‘Kicking the can down the road’

Regional officer Steve Garelick said: “A two month licence extension is no good for anyone – it leaves uncertainty for drivers and passengers, meanwhile Uber still operates an unsafe model on the streets of London.

“Transport for London has simply kicked the can down the road and shown no regard for drivers or public safety.”

TfL rejected Uber’s licence renewal request in 2017, due to failings in the firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and driver background checks.

A judge in 2018 then granted Uber a probationary 15-month licence after the firm said it had made several changes to its business model in London, its most important European market.

TfL said the new two-month licence comes with “new conditions to ensure passenger safety”, covering things like insurance and driver document checks.

It added: “Uber London Limited has been granted a two-month private hire operator licence to allow for scrutiny of additional information that we are requesting ahead of consideration of any potential further licensing application.”

About 45,000 drivers work for Uber in London, and if its request for a five-year licence is rejected all of them risk losing their jobs.

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