Uber banned in London

Uber banned in London

Uber’s license to operate in London was revoked overnight, a surprise decision that will affect the 3.5 million people and 40,000 drivers who use the app in the city.

The city’s transportation regulator, Transport for London, said the license will expire on September 30.

Regulators said it denied the license because Uber’s "approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility."

City officials cited Uber’s use of a secret software tool called "Greyball" that the company built to avoid regulators. Uber was also faulted for not properly reporting crimes and obtaining medical certificates.

"TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license," the regulator said in a statement.

Uber has 21 days to lodge an appeal, and can continue to operate during the appeal process. “We intend to immediately challenge this in the courts,” said Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in London.

London’s ruling decision pits the popularity of the company among millions of customers, against regulators and taxi drivers who want tighter controls.

The decision was cheered by the city’s traditional black cab industry, which has been hurt by the proliferation of Uber drivers and has aggressively pushed for tighter regulation of the San Francisco-based ride-hailing service.

Taxi drivers, many of whom now use the rival apps Gett and MyTaxi, must go through extensive testing before receiving a license, while Uber drivers have fewer requirements.

"All companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect," London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement. "Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security."

Uber cars have filled London streets since its arrival in the British capital in 2012, identifiable by the smartphones drivers keep holstered to their windshield. 

Uber disputed the allegations made by regulators. The company said it conducts thorough background checks of drivers and had made several changes to improve safety. The company also said the Greyball program had never been in the U.K. “for the purposes cited by TfL.”

“By wanting to ban our app from the capital Transport for London and the Mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice,” said Elvidge, the Uber manager in London. “If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.”

Some are already coming to the defense of Uber. "It’s not in the interests of our economy, people in London and in this case, drivers, to restrict new products and services," said Tom Thackray, director at the Confederation of British Industry.

Although the conclusion of the ruling may take some time to play out in the U.K. courts. rivals are already circling Uber users. Daimler-owned Mytaxi, a black cab hailing app, is currently offering 50 percent off its fares from Friday.



  • Matt J


    23 Sep, 2017 12:43 am

    London Cab experience was great, from the drivers to knowledge and even conversation. I trusted them more than Uber drivers but in saying that I’ve never caught anything other than Uber Black when overseas... Price wise, London Cabs were fair and I did not see them as expensive. Uber Black for special occasions but I’d still rather London Cab it.
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  • Jason


    23 Sep, 2017 02:44 am

    London black cabs may be great but WOW do you pay for it. Pre uber it was pretty much only tourists and wealthy Londoners that would use them.

    Uber brought taxis to the masses and they were massively popular.

    They started a petition online and need 300,000 online signatures before it will be heard by the local government. In the first hour they'd received 75,000.
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  • Alan Su


    23 Sep, 2017 03:12 am

    If only taxi drivers in Sydney and Melbourne had to take a test on local streets... sigh. But then again that takes precious time away from blocking the Tullamarine Fwy in protest of Uber.
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  • Scott Rawlings


    23 Sep, 2017 07:44 am

    Is it just me or has Uber lost some of its intended charm? 9 out of my last 10 rides in Melbourne Uber's have been in a generic Toyota Camry which is obviously not the drivers private vehicle, but rather a car bought by a bunch of ex taxi drivers and driven by a group of them 24/7. We had an incident with a nasty angry driver last weekend who abused us because he couldn't find us to pick us up (he didn't answer his phone when we called him). He drove off on us when we refused to accept his abuse in a rage with one door still open
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  • Jason


    23 Sep, 2017 08:05 am

    SRA but that's exactly what I find ironic about Transport For London's reason of 'safety' in not renewing ubers licence. You can get a rude/angry/fill in the blank driver with any taxi company.

    Yet with Uber when I book my car I receive the drivers picture, the cars registration and i'm tracked by GPS. If I have reason to complain about my driver I certainly have all the details I need.

    Many in London are saying that this is an attempt by the local London council to force people onto the 'night tube' (some lines recently went 24hr) as apparently it's being under utilised as people can afford to take ubers. Take away uber and people will not take a black cab - they are out of most peoples budget - they will have to take the tube, or worse, the dreaded night bus. Anyone that's been on one will know what a pleasure that is.
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  • StudiodeKadent


    23 Sep, 2017 12:23 pm

    Two words: "Rent Seeking."
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  • Will Dutton


    23 Sep, 2017 05:01 pm

    Never really had a problem with black cabs except that they re impossible to get at any kind of peak hour so most people just book and Addison Lee. The uber drivers I've had in London are probably not up to the standard but it's cheaper and easier so I'd still use them.

    In Brisbane Ubers are significantly superior to taxi's, the feel safer are easier to book and thank to GPS they know where they are going none of which is true of cabs here. I've also had lost items returned to me by Ubers with no fuss whereas cab drivers here unfortunately are not as honest, one cabbie denied categorically that I had left my phone in his cab until I requested the footage from TMR and then it magically appeared. Not cool
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  • Adam T


    23 Sep, 2017 08:34 pm

    The irony...the disrupters get disrupted.
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  • Jason


    24 Sep, 2017 05:12 am

    There were some more details on this released today in the UK media. The petition reached its 300k signatures that required a response from the London Mayor.

    The Mayor said that the main safety failings were Ubers failing to report sexual assaults that were reported by users to them, onto the police. It was believed this was to not tarnish the reputation of the company. In one instance, a driver that had been reported to Uber for sexual assault went on to commit a second more serious sexual assault as Uber did not respond to the claim.

    Another telling detail was released - the last time the operating licence was up for renewal in 2015 the then Mayor Boris Johnson recommended that Uber have its license curtailed however Uber lobbied former Chancellor George Osborne and the threat of reducing their operations went away.

    Taxi car licenses are generally issued for a period of five years in London - Ubers was actually up for renewal in May this year. However, concerns of Transport for London were such that they issued an interim license of just four months so Uber could deal with the issues and concerns TfL had raised.
    Obviously Uber did not address these sufficiently and TfL acted.
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  • loopflyer


    25 Sep, 2017 03:21 am

    Never have used Uber or Lyft or any other such cabbie. The mayor of London is right on this call, as are the 10 members of parliament who urged to ban Uber. The issue revolves around horrific crimes committed by Uber drivers in the London area, including many which have been covered up by Uber. Crimes committed by Uber drivers upon their passengers include rape, robbery, throat slashings and murder. Reference Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan Police statistics. The least of the worries are out of work migrant Uber drivers, the greatest worry is whether you’ll arrive alive to your destination.
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20 Jul, 2019 08:06 pm


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