Uber now faces to pay up to £2.1m in order to continue operating its services in London. This is in line with the latest proposals to tighten regulation of private hire vehicles in London.
The new consultation is the latest development in a long-running battle by Transport for London to deal with the growing number of private hire cars. Transport for London has outlined its plans to overhaul the fees that it charges private hire operators for operating licences, which will see a steep increase.
Uber has reportedly said that it supported the principle of larger operators paying higher fees and would look at the details once it received the consultation documents.
Currently, more than 30,000 licensed drivers in London use the Uber app, making it the largest operator of private hire vehicles in the city. Transport for London (TfL) has said that the private hire industry in London had grown dramatically, from 65,000 licensed drivers in 2013/14 to more than 117,000 now.
Helen Chapman, TfL’s general manager of taxi and private hire, said:
The operators fees system is no longer fit for purpose. It is only fair that license fees for private hire operators accurately reflect the costs of enforcement and regulating the trade.
As of now, there are two rates for five-year licenses: around 1,500 pounds for small operators of up to two vehicles and around 2,800 pounds for firms operating three or more vehicles. Under the new proposals, the existing two tiers would be replaced with five. For large operators with more than 1,000 vehicles — Uber and its rival Addison Lee — fees would rise to 167,000 pounds plus 68 pounds per car.
Like in many other countries, Uber is also facing issues with authorities in Britain. Last month, Uber lost a high-profile court battle over plans by TfL to introduce English-language tests for drivers. After losing the case, Uber has lodged an appeal against the decision.
TfL estimates that during the next five years, enforcement costs will reach £30m, compared with a previous estimate of £4m. The total cost for licensing, enforcement and compliance for the taxi and private hire trade during the next five years will be £209m.