By Roger Kim
On September 22, 2017, in a surprising and highly punitive move,Transport for London (TfL) informed Uber’s London division that it would not issue a new private hire operator license after Uber’s current license expires on September 30, 2017. TfL stated that the license revocation is primarily due to concerns of public safety and security stemming from Uber’s lack of corporate responsibility. However, September 30 is actually not the end of Uber’s operations in London; it will have 21 days to appeal if it so chooses. For this reason, the immense scale of Uber operations will continue in London until the appeal process expires.
TfL’s decision was fully supported by London mayor Sadiq Khan, who stated that London needs to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology, and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that will help Londoners by providing better and more affordable services. However, he also stated that he expects all companies in London to play by the rules and adhere to the high standards, particularly when it concerns customer safety. He emphasized that providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.
Uber was quick to respond to TfL’s decision. It claimed that TfL wanted to restrict customers’ choices; 3.5 million Londoners use Uber’s app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers rely on Uber to make a living. Uber claimed that this decision will deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport. It also stated that it intended to immediately challenge the decision in the court. Uber further claimed that it operates in more than 600 cities around the world, including more than 40 towns and cities in UK alone. It argued that the ban would show the world that London rejects innovative companies who bring choices to consumers.