25 nov 19

Uber loses London operating licence - again

For the second time in just over two years, Uber has lost its licence to operate in London. Transport for London (TfL) cites “a pattern of failures on safety and security”, deeming the company’s app not fit and proper.


This followed a refusal by TfL to renew Uber’s licence in 2017. Uber appealed this decision, and a magistrate granted it a 15-month licence, which expired in September. 

However, as the licence expired in September, TfL said it wanted more time to scrutinise the information it needed from Uber and it gave the company two more months to operate in the British capital.

This two-month extension has now expired, and Uber will not be granted another extension, nor a full 5-year private hire operator licence.

Pattern of failures

“TfL has identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers  and their safety at risk," said a spokesperson for TfL.

“Despite addressing some of these issues, TfL does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time.”

Unauthorised drivers

As an example, TfL cited a change to Uber’s systems which allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other driver accounts and pick up passengers as if they were the booked driver, which happened in at least 14,000 trips.

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s top executive for Northern and Eastern Europe, disagrees with TfL’s judgement. “We have robust systems and checks in place to confirm the identity of drivers and will soon be introducing a new facial matching process, which we believe is a first in London taxi and private hire.”

Uber has around 45,000 drivers in London and its app is used by around 3.6 million people in the city each month, making it the company's largest European market.

Image: passenger exiting an Uber vehicle in London

Authored by: Benjamin Uyttebroeck