On Friday 22nd September, Transport for London announced that Uber London Ltd will not have its Private Hire License Renewed after September 30th.
Uber is expected to appeal the decision, and will be allowed to continue operating until the appeal process is finished. The decision by TfL concluded Uber London was not fit and proper to hold a license, and did not meet the rigorous regulations set by TfL to demonstrate they could ensure passenger safety.
What was said?
A Statement on Uber London Ltd. by Transport for London said:
“TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrates a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.”
“These include its approach to reporting serious criminal offences, its approach to how medical certificates are obtained, its approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained, and its approach to explaining the use of Greyball (Software) in London.”
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, commented:
“I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service.”
“However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect – particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.”
Jennette Arnold, Chairman of the London Assembly, stated:
“We welcome Transport for London’s decision not to renew Uber’s licence. The London Assembly unanimously agreed for the licence not to be renewed, unless the company improved its working practices. Londoners’ safety must come first and the Assembly was concerned about the effects of Uber’s practices on its own drivers, other private hire operators and the London licenced taxi trade.”
How does this affect the industry?
The decision by TfL shows that London is only willing to accept the most rigorous of standards in safety and security across the entire commercial vehicle industry. Bodies such as the Fleet Operators Recognition Scheme (FORS) and Construction Logistics and Community Safety (CLOCS) have already been fighting for the improvement of working standards among both the Haulage and Construction industry alike. With mandatory introduction of proper safety precautions such as Vehicle CCTV and Turning Alarms, these organisations have been putting the safety of drivers and road users at the forefront of the industry and the minds of fleet operators. The ban of Uber London by TfL also sends a strong message for fleet operation in the Licensed Vehicle industry.
As Safety and Security are traits which many commercial vehicle companies pride themselves on, it is vital that this is carried out in practice among Taxi, Coach and Bus companies, alongside other major industries. Not only is passenger welfare vital, driver protection and security are also of the utmost important and it is important to see companies introducing measures to do so. Best Practice can be carried out not only through the correct DBS check procedures and driver screening, but also with the introduction of security technologies, such as GPS tracking and Vehicle CCTV.
What action is underway?
Vehicle CCTV is becoming more common in passenger vehicles, particularly in Taxi companies. It is important for taxi operators to ensure the highest levels of safety and security to protect both drivers and passengers. From anti-social behaviour to false insurance claims, CCTV systems are a cost effective way for both taxis and private hire vehicles to reduce the likelihood of these incidents occurring. Local councils and authorities are slowly implementing mandatory taxi CCTV requirements due to the increasing numbers of incidents reported. Southampton, Portsmouth and Rotherham were the first councils to introduce these measures with other councils and authorities expected to follow suit.
Similarly, the bus and coach industry is driven by rigorous standards, offering first-class customer service, comfort, style and most importantly safety. The initial introduction of safety and security systems in the industry was due to an increase in incidents involving drivers, passengers and vulnerable road users. Further to this, fleet operators in the industry are facing increasing pressure from multiple stakeholders to improve not only the safety and security of their vehicles but also the impact they have on the environment.
We hope to see the standards of road safety and operation standards continue to rise over the coming years, and this decision by TfL is another step in the right direction.