April 26, 2018

Uber's new CEO apologizes to Londoners after citywide ban

27 September 2017, 12:28 | Lorenzo Hawkins

London Uber ban regulators are finally catching up with technology

File 20170925 17414

Less than one month after he left his CEO role at Expedia to join the ride-hailing giant, Khosrowshahi is now dealing with a crisis in London, where the city's transportation authority said Friday it won't renew Uber's license to operate because the service is not "fit and proper".

In its decision, TfL said Uber's approach to operating its business demonstrated a lack of corporate responsibility, pointing to a failure to report serious criminal offences, its approach to medical certificates, and its use of Greyball software that can stop regulatory bodies accessing Uber's full app. In a particularly worrying case reported by The Guardian, a man who worked for Uber was allowed to continue working despite an allegation of sexual assault.

"Even though there is a legal process in place, I have asked TfL to make themselves available to meet with him", Khan said, according to the BBC.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in a letter that they would appeal against the decision on behalf of the city's population but he added that they must do so with the knowledge that they must change.

The city's transportation agency, Transport for London, said last week it would not renew Uber's license when it expires September 30, citing a lack of corporate responsibility and concern for public security. "On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologize for the mistakes we've made".

Uber has since appealed the ruling, saying the ban would leave 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and "deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport".

It remains to be seen which strategy will work best, and Uber also runs the risk of antagonizing London officials by sending the mixed messages. Uber said the ban would show that London is closed to innovative companies.

London's traditional "black cab" drivers have long campaigned against the service, and welcomed Friday's decision.

Transport for London, the regulatory body, said last week it wouldn't renew Uber's license when it expires September 30. It now operates ride services in more than 600 cities, covering as much as 95 percent of the United States population.

The initial background checks were carried out by a third party but TfL deemed them inadequate following a review.

Now, as brand-new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi deals with a stunning rebuke from London, the playbook gets another page: fight, but offer some diplomatic humility. 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.

"It also sends a worrying message about the unpredictable nature of regulators (and the perception they may be politically motivated) just at the time when London needs to attract further innovation and investment".

It is worth noting that in other major United Kingdom cities such as Birmingham, Leeds and Manchester Uber continues to function without an issue. This has led to London mayor Sadiq Khan (pic above) urging Transport for London (TfL) to hold talks with Uber.

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