28 September 2020

Uber To Continue London Operations As Court Rules The Firm “Fit And Proper”

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes, 58 seconds. Contains 596 words

After months of uncertainty, Uber has been granted a new licence to continue their London operations.

Back in November 2019, TfL (Transport for London) stripped Uber London Limited (ULL) of their licence to operate in the capital, citing the firm to not be “firm and proper”, and alleging numerous safety issues, such as the discovery that 14,000 trips had been taken with drivers using other people’s IDs.

Uber had since appealed this decision, with the appeal originally due to be taken in court July this summer. However, it had been delayed to September due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Before the court hearing, Uber regional manager Jamie Heywood said: “We have worked hard to address TfL’s concerns over the last few months, rolled out real-time ID checks for drivers, and are committed to keeping people moving safely around the city.”

Uber has argued that the firm has made numerous fundamental changes to its system to ensure the safety of both the passenger and driver. One of its most recent changes includes the mandatory use of face coverings on all of their rides. Uber now also requires its drivers to take selfies before using the app.

During the court appeal, there were also accusations that Uber has been trying to cover up the safety flaw which allowed drivers to use fake identities. However, Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram denied the evidence, commenting: “I do not find any evidence of concealment or ‘cover up’ on part of the ULL as regards the driver photo fraud issue.”

“I have weighed ULL’s record of engagement with TfL and clear improvements in communication.”

“Cognizant instructed by TfL had initially found that ULL’s ITSM processes were not to appropriate standards. TfL accept that there have been subsequent changes and that, now, ‘ULL’s ITSM processes are now of a standard that they would expect of a company in ULL’s position. ULL’s changes have plugged the gaps identified by Cognizant. This was the residual area of concern in terms of systems and processes. I find it has been adequately addressed.”

“Despite their historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV operator’s licence.”

Steve McNamara, General Secretary of the Licenced Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA), responded: “Today’s decision is a disaster for London. Uber has demonstrated time and time again that it simply can’t be trusted to put the safety of Londoners, its drivers and other road users above profit. Sadly, it seems that Uber is too big to regulate effectively, but too big to fail.”

“Uber’s own witnesses admitted a series of failures to address the photo fraud issue, which put passengers at risk. Shockingly, they also accepted that they were not upfront with TfL – suggesting the issue had been addressed, when they knew full well it hadn’t.”

“By holding up their hands and finally accepting some responsibility, Uber has managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the Court and create the false impression that it has changed for the better. A leopard doesn’t change its spots and we are clear that Uber’s underlying culture remains as toxic as it has ever been.”

“The judge himself has recognised that Uber has no more to do, noting that the ULL is ‘not perfect’ but ‘improving’ and has ‘reduced incidents’. He is setting a very low bar for a company whose track record clearly shows it can’t be trusted to disclose serious incidents and one that has consistently failed to do the right thing. He is playing Russian roulette with the safety of Londoners and I fear it’s only a matter of time until the next incident.”

 

London phonebook” by @Doug88888, used under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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