Published: Wed, September 27, 2017
Markets | By Erika Turner

Uber chief apologizes for London 'mistakes' after license loss

Uber chief apologizes for London 'mistakes' after license loss

Tom Elvidge, Uber's London general manager, pointed out that over 3.5 million citizens of London use the app regularly, and 40,000 licensed drivers therein are making a living as Uber drivers, now to be shut down unless something changes. The company ordered two investigations in harassment claims and fired at least 20 people.

But on Friday, Transport for London (TfL) ruled that Uber didn't meet its "rigorous regulations" to ensure passenger safety following pressure from 10 cross-party Members of Parliment (PMs).

The regulator cited failures to report serious criminal offenses, conduct sufficient background checks on drivers and other safety issues.

The company has 21 days to appeal, and can continue to operate during the appeal process.

Mr Khosrowshahi admits in the letter that "we have got things wrong along the way". It now operates ride services in more than 600 cities, covering as much as 95 percent of the USA population.

The ban also affected the firm's strategy in the ongoing disputes with other cities. Uber has been valued at about $70 billion. There's always a fringe element in anything; when you're talking about a system the size of Uber, it stands to reason the fringe is more pronounced than normal.

Khan said in response to Uber's apology: "Obviously I am pleased that [Khosrowshahi] has acknowledged the issues that Uber faces in London".

Still if you were anxious that you that you wouldn't be able to get a cheap ride in London, you might have at least another year to continue taking advantage of Uber's services. 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.

"Providing an innovative service is not an excuse for not following the rules", Khan said in a statement Friday.

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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. Those cities do not have a powerful black cab industry like London does.

But for Uber to win over regulators, it will likely have to make some pretty substantial concessions.

Since the decision on 22 September 2017, more than 760,000 people have signed an online petition to reverse TfL's decision. "On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologise for the mistakes we've made", CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in an open letter to Londoners.

A message on the Uber app is seen on a smartphone in London.

Uber disputed the allegations made by regulators.

Andrew Boff, a Conservative member of the London Assembly, said: "Operators don't do background checks".

But Jones said the company did not fully understand TfL's concerns and that he was eager to speak with its representatives. While we haven't been asked to make any changes, we would like to know what we can do.

This decision was surprising for many.

Some are already coming to the defense of Uber. It will argue that consumers, in the shape of the millions of mainly young Londoners who rely on its service, will be seriously let down if it can no longer operate.

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