Uber faced a major setback last year when London’s transportation agency pulled the ride-hailing app’s license. More than half a year later, Uber admitted in court to safety problems with its program, offered up changes, and has now been granted a license to resume operations.
Last September, Transport for London cited public safety and security concerns with Uber and didn’t renew Uber’s license in the city. Uber appealed the decision that affected the estimated 3.6 million Uber riders in the bustling UK city and 45,000 drivers, and has been operating as usual through the court date.
After telling the Westminster Magistrates’ Court this week that Uber accepts “TfL’s decision in September was the right decision on the evidence at the time,” and that it would continue to implement changes to its app and services, the court granted Uber the appeal. Now Uber has a 15-month operating license. It previously had pushed for a five-year license.
Uber’s general manager in the UK, Tom Elvidge, said in an email statement, “We are pleased with today’s decision. We will continue to work with TfL to address their concerns and earn their trust, while providing the best possible service for our customers.”
Changes to Uber coming to the UK include:
24-7 phone support for both drivers and riders
Changes to the app to clearly show that drivers are licensed by TfL
Regional restrictions so that drivers can only use the app where they are licensed
Mandatory six-hour breaks after 10 hours of driving
A new reporting system for Uber to alert serious incidents to the Metropolitan Police
Free insurance programs for qualified drivers
A new driver advisory group
Other culture and governance changes
The London license mess came just as Dara Khosrowshahi took over the CEO job at Uber from Travis Kalanick last year. Khosrowshahi even wrote an open letter to Londoners and personally wrote, “I apologise for the mistakes we’ve made.” The City of London had been dubious of the ride app for years, granting it shorter-term licenses and eventually revoking its license altogether.
London mayor Sadiq Khan had supported the TfL decision to pull Uber’s license. But the mayor acknowledged Tuesday that the conditions for Uber’s official return will “overhaul the way it operates not just in London but across the world.”
No matter how big or powerful you are, you must play by the rules – especially when it comes to the safety of Londoners. @Uber has been granted a 15-month licence to operate in London – but with a clear set of conditions that @TfL will closely monitor and enforce. pic.twitter.com/5k80UtQp75
— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) June 26, 2018
Others lamented the ban last year, saying it hurt women and people with disabilities who depend on the car service for a safer, more accessible way around the city.