Black cab drivers across the capital were left jumping for joy, whilst millions of Londoners and Uber driver were left shocked after Transport for London announced it will not renew Uber’s private hire licence when it expires on September 30.
Earlier today TFL said Uber’s application had been rejected as it believed the operator was “not fit and proper to hold a private licence." It said Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrated a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues, which have “potential public safe and security implications.”
These include the taxi hailing app’s reporting of serious criminal offences and its approach to carrying out background checks.
Uber said: “We are sure Londoners will be as astounded as we are by this decision. By trying to ban the app from the capital, the Mayor and Transport for London have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice.”
The decision comes after Uber has faced intense criticism from black cab drivers who said the app was destroying its business and causing further congestion on the capitals roads. Many campaigners also argued that Uber failed to protect its workers rights. There have also been reports of drivers deliberately causing surges in fares and avoiding the unpopular UberPOOL, where drivers have to take multiple passengers who are heading in the same direction.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: "I fully support TfL's decision - it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners' safety and security."
Some 3.5 million passenger and 40,00 drivers use the app in London, and the impact of the loss of Uber will be felt across the capital.
While cabbies and campaigners feel vindicated by the news, many Londoner have expressed their surprise and concern at TfL’s decision. Many fear that it will make their journey after a night out more dangerous and costly, as black cab fares are typically higher than Uber.
According to RideGuru a black cab from Kings Cross to Camden Town would cost £7.94 while an under is £5.13, a difference of £2.81 for a nine minute journey.
Some however were pleased with the decision.
Uber now has 21 days to appeal against TfL’s decision, which it said it will do in the courts immediately.
Londoners can breathe a small sigh of relief as Uber isn’t the only taxi hailing app, there are fiver other apps you can download, myTaxi (black cabs), Kabbee (minicabs), Gett (black cabs) and Addison Lee which is also usually more expensive than Uber.
In response black cab hailing app myTaxi said that its black cabs would offer a minimum of 30% off the metered fare.
Being a Londoner myself I can see both sides, everyone wants to feel safe as they travel home at night and not have to face the choice of higher fares or having to walk home. The introduction of the night tube has been fantastic for London, but with only a few lines running 24 hours on just a Friday and Saturday it might not help those who work late or venture out during the week.
It's true black cab drivers have to undertake the 'knowledge', which for those of you who have seen the channel 4 programme will know is an immense feat, and I agree Uber should be made to do more to ensure the safety of its passengers and drivers. Hopefully this may be the wake up call it needs, and as it beings to appeal the decision its takes on board the criticism it faces and makes the necessary changes.
In a city thats 'open for business' and wants to be at the forefront of technology, more should be done by the government and the London Mayor to work with and improve businesses like Uber that appear to have the support of large proportion of the capital.
However, this may not be where Uber's story ends though as an online petition launched by Uber has already amassed over 260,000 of the 300,000 signatures it needs.
No doubt this will be a long and lengthy fight to #saveuber.