If you had ever thought obtaining a licence was troublesome, then Uber’s situation might make you feel a bit better. Uber has been severely unlucky when it comes to their licence renewal request for operating in London. Transport for London (TfL) had rejected Uber’s licence renewal request in 2017 due to failings which it said it found in its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and driver background checks, prompting legal action.
After failing to secure a maximum five-year term in a battle with the regulator, on Tuesday, this commute titan was granted renewal of a two-month London operating licence. Previously the regulator had stripped the app of its right to take rides.
As TfL remarked, the new two-month licence comes with “new conditions to ensure passenger safety” and it wanted more details from the company. Uber said it will work closely with TfL and provide any additional information. “We will keep listening, learning and improving to provide the best service while being a trusted partner to London,” said Jamie Heywood, Uber’s Regional General Manager for Northern & Eastern Europe.
Uber was earlier granted a 15-month probationary licence by a judge in 2018. That licence tenure is supposed to end in September 25th this year. The 2017 licence loss came just weeks after Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi took over and practised his ability to pacify regulatory agenda as the app faced disputes with rival firms.
“Uber London Limited has been granted a two-month private hire operator licence to allow for scrutiny of additional information that we are requesting ahead of consideration of any potential further licensing application,” said a spokesman.
The new conditions set by TfL cover ride-sharing, appropriate insurance and driver document checks by Uber. Mayor Sadiq Khan, who happens to be the chairman of TfL, has long been sceptical of Uber, commenting on LBC radio last month that they (UBER) need to play by the rules. “You will know my track record which is standing up to the big boys, and they are boys, and make sure everyone plays by the rules,” he told listeners to a phone-in. “I don’t care how many lawyers you employ or how big your PR budget.”
Uber claims its roughly 45,000 drivers in the city who enjoy the flexibility of their work and that it has taken several steps to improve safety for its passengers. Meanwhile, drivers of the city’s traditional black taxis have lobbied hard against a license renewal, having long cited safety issues, working standards and the undercutting of their business model.
The regulator wants to exercise more power over new entrants. Uber received a five-year licence in 2012 but fellow ride-hailing service Ola obtained just a 15-month right to operate earlier this year.