In a breaking story that will have huge ramifications, the taxi firm Uber has lost its license to practice in London. The capital city of England has removed the private hire license of the firm, effectively throwing the future plans of Uber to expand into chaos, and preserving traditional taxi operators in the city. This Uber London ban is sure to be one of the biggest news stories of this or any other week, considering that the high profile nature of the company, and its short but controversial history.
Not fit and proper
The Uber London ban has been instigated by Transport for London, with the local government body responsible for the transport system in the capital indicating that the digital-based company has not been considered fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license. The regulator particularly pointed to the approach and conduct of the taxi operator, suggesting that it lacked personal responsibility.
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Uber has been given 21 days to appeal against the decision, and no doubt the transport company will be launching a strong response to the verdict of Transport for London.
Indicating his approval of the Uber London ban, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a statement: “I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.”
Lack of corporate responsibility
Those assessing the suitability of Uber concluded that the firm lacks corporate responsibility, and has an overall working culture and ethos which could have potential public safety and security implications. This led Transport for London to conclude that Uber should no longer be allowed to operate in the capital.
The Uber London ban can be considered particularly significant as taxis are central to the culture and transport network of England’s capital city. The black cap is a symbol of London life, and Uber’s successful penetration of this traditional market was undoubtedly extremely valuable to the corporation.
Estimated figures indicate that 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers use the Uber app in London, underlining the reach and broad appeal of the software. This represents just under half of the 8.7 million population of Greater London, succinctly illustrating that Uber had become weaved into the fabric of transport in the city.
The taxi operator which is accessible via mobile devices has naturally responded strongly to this landmark decision. In an official statement, indicating its intention to appeal against the verdict, Uber asserted that the decision demonstrates that “far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies”.
Uber has continually courted controversy in its short existence, with several areas of its conduct considered controversial. Central to the criticism of the company has been the perpetual assertion that the way that Uber operates is contrary to the interests of drivers. Many believe that the company undercuts traditional taxi operators, while offering taxi drivers less security and working rights than traditional companies.
With regard to the London Uber ban, opponents of the firm have suggested that the taxi hailing app causes gridlocked roads and insufficiently regulates its drivers. Such criticisms have led to the growing company being banned in several nations and localities previously, but the Uber London ban will undoubtedly be a huge blow to the corporation and its burgeoning operation.
Uber was founded in March 2009, and has since risen to huge prominence, making its co-founded, Travis Cordell Kalanick, into a billionaire. The taxi firm now operates in 633 cities worldwide, and hailing an Uber has become part of the common cultural lexicon in many locales.
Interestingly, it is difficult to even estimate the precise commercial impact of this decision on Uber, as the taxi firm is not a publicly listed company. Uber has chosen to keep its operation private, very rate for a company of this size, so there is no knowing what immediate impact this landmark verdict will have on the value Uber.
Responding to the decision, credentialed groups involved in the taxi trade in London have responded positively. General secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association Steve McNamara offered explicit support for the verdict of Transport for London.
“The mayor has made the right call not to relicense Uber. We expect Uber will again embark on a spurious legal challenge against the mayor and TfL, and we will urge the court to uphold this decision. This immoral company has no place on London’s streets”.
It is unclear whether an appeal is likely to be successful, but it does seem that the firm will have a difficult job in demonstrating that the specific criticisms of the company are inaccurate.
After the Uber London ban, the company now faces an anxious wait to see if other territories follow suit. Uber has already endured high profile opposition in such locations as California and Italy.