Sadiq Khan and Transport for London recognise the unicorn’s commitment to reform since losing its five-year license
Uber’s journey to becoming a London household name skid to a halt last September, after allegations of poor driver background checks and deficient crime reporting saw Transport for London (TfL) put the brakes on its five-year licence. Now, a legal servicing seems to have put the company back in the race.
Appealing its case at Westminster Magistrates’ Court, at the end of June Uber secured a 15-month probationary licence to operate in London once more after proving “wholesome change” had taken place in its framework. Indeed, as well as replacing its senior management and accepting TfL’s accusations on the hearing’s first day, the company’s appointment of three non-executive board members had Emma Arbuthnot, chief magistrate, recognise the scaleup’s dedication to improve its service.
However, it's not a decisive victory. TfL for one will be watching Uber like a hawk and Arbuthnot made a point of criticising the company for attempting to “grow the business, come what may” and ultimately rejected their 18-month request for being “too long”. Moreover, Uber will have to foot the case’s £425,000 bill.
Speaking at the court, Tom Elvidge, Uber's general manager in the UK, accepted TfL’s view that removing Uber’s licence was right at the time. "I agree that Uber London Limited (ULL) and Uber generally was undergoing a period of significant change and, in light of what was available to TfL given the mistakes that ULL made, I absolutely accept that decision in September," he said.
Commenting on the outcome Sadiq Khan, mayor of London, said: “After years of operating poorly in London, Uber has now accepted that TfL's action in refusing to renew their licence was totally justified. Today our stance has been vindicated by the court.
“Uber has been put on probation – their 15 month licence has a clear set of conditions that TfL will thoroughly monitor and enforce. No matter how powerful and how big you are, you must play by the rules."
Given around 40,000 of Uber’s 50,000 British drivers operate in The Old Smoke, the next year will see the company shifting up a gear to bag a fully-fledged approval from Lonon. Ultimately, it’s a mutual win for transport standards, Uber and consumers across London.