Uber’s London licence renewed for two months

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Ride-hailing firm Uber has had its right to operate in London extended for two months.

The firm lost its licence in 2017 due to public safety concerns, after which a judge granted a 15-month extension which was due to expire on Wednesday.

Transport for London (TfL) said its licence would now be renewed temporarily while it requested additional information from the firm.

Uber must also meet new conditions on passenger safety, it said.

It means the ride-sharing firm must wait until November to find out if it will be granted another full five-year licence. If it is not, it may have to stop trading in London, its most important European market.

Uber has faced push-back from regulators and traditional taxi services in a number of countries after being dogged by controversy for a number of years.

In London, TfL rejected Uber’s licence renewal request in 2017, due to failings in the firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and driver background checks.

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe, said on Tuesday that Uber would “continue to work closely with TfL and provide any additional requested information”.

He added: “Over the past two years, we’ve launched a range of new safety features in the app, introduced better protections for drivers and our clean air plan is helping to tackle air pollution.”

‘Kicking the can down the road’

About 45,000 drivers work for Uber in London, and if its licence is ultimately rejected all of them could lose their jobs.

The GMB union, which represents Uber drivers, said the firm has had “more chances than a game of monopoly”.

Regional officer Steve Garelick said: “A two month licence extension is no good for anyone – it leaves uncertainty for drivers and passengers, meanwhile Uber still operates an unsafe model on the streets of London.

“Transport for London has simply kicked the can down the road and shown no regard for drivers or public safety.”

Last year, a judge granted Uber a probationary 15-month licence to operate in London after the firm said it had made changes to its business model.

But TfL said the new two-month licence would come with “new conditions to ensure passenger safety”, covering things like insurance and driver document checks.

It added: “Uber London Limited has been granted a two-month private hire operator licence to allow for scrutiny of additional information that we are requesting ahead of consideration of any potential further licensing application.”