Uber has now been booted from London on two separate occasions. The most recent was in November of last year. However, the rideshare giant’s feud with London’s transport authority, Transport for London (TfL), dates back to 2017.
On Monday, Uber won a major battle that gives it the right to continue operating in London. It was granted an 18-month license that comes with “a number of conditions” that will allow TfL to “closely monitor Uber’s adherence to the regulations and swiftly take action if they fail to meet the required standards.”
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Uber’s recent stroke of good luck comes courtesy of deputy chief magistrate Tanweer Ikram, who said in Monday’s decision, “Despite their historical failings, I find them [Uber], now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London PHV [private hire vehicle] operator’s license.”
In other words, Uber is once again allowed to operate within the London city limits. Ikram’s came after a four-day hearing that is the culmination of an appeal filed by Uber last December.
The rideshare company now has 18 months to prove to legislators that it is worthy of operating in the city. Uber’s regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, Jamie Heywood, says, “This decision is a recognition of Uber’s commitment to safety and we will continue to work constructively with TfL. There is nothing more important than the safety of the people who use the Uber app as we work together to keep London moving.”
It’s worth noting that the duo originally got into a dispute over the way Uber handled criminal offenses that took place while Londoners were using its platform. Moreover, TfL took issue with Uber’s background check method for drivers.
Interestingly, those in London might not notice much of a change after Monday’s ruling. The rideshare giant has been allowed to operate normally while its legal battle was being fought. During that time, Uber has worked to address concerns related to its platform.
A tangible move is the introduction of random driver checks using facial recognition. Uber instituted that policy in April. It also rolled out “Programme Zero” to ensure that it stays in line with all of TfL’s regulations.
Although Uber’s critics won’t be happy about Monday’s ruling, Londoners will be. They can rest easy knowing that Uber’s rideshare services will continue to be available in the city. Those who prefer not to rely on public transportation through TfL now have a reliable alternative that won’t be shut down at a moment’s notice.
Meanwhile, Uber should be thrilled at the news. London is a major market that offers a considerable revenue stream for the company. Many people forget that London has a larger population than New York City.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Uber has struggled due to low rider numbers. The additional security provided by being able to operate in one of the world’s biggest cities is certainly welcome.
It also gives Uber a chance to start thinking of other ways to penetrate the London market. The firm has leaned heavily into meal and grocery delivery throughout the pandemic and that approach isn’t likely to change. Still, being able to transport London’s nearly nine million residents is a significant boost for the rideshare company.