Uber's London licence revoked in surprise regulatory move

2017-09-22 12:44 - Adam Satariano
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Demand for Uber has been surging in places such as Johannesburg. (Gareth van Zyl)


London - Uber’s licence to operate in London was revoked, a surprise decision that will affect the 3.5 million people and 40 000 drivers who use the app in the city.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 licence will expire on September 30. Regulators said it denied the licence 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 licence," the regulator said in a statement. Uber has 21 days to lodge an appeal.

The decision is a victory for the city’s traditional black cab industry, which has been hurt by the proliferation of Uber drivers and has pushed for tighter regulation of the San Francisco-based ride-hailing service. Taxi drivers must go through extensive testing before receiving a licence, while Uber drivers have fewer requirements.

London’s decision adds to the problems facing Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s new CEO, who is juggling a host of controversies ranging from a lawsuit alleging the company stole self-driving car technology from Alphabet, to a bribery investigation in Asia, to a boorish company culture.

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