On Monday, September 25, 2019, the London transport regulator, Transport for London, stripped Uber of its license to operate in the English capital city, citing a “pattern of failure” that put passengers at risk. Uber immediately repealed the decision. The company will be allowed to continue to operate during the appeals process, but it is clear that the city of London is aware of the dangerous manner in which Uber conducts business.
Why Did London Revoke Uber’s License to Operate?
London’s transportation authority, Transport for London, decided to revoke Uber’s license to operate in the United Kingdom capital after witnessing the significant risks that the app poses to passengers. Transport for London also stated that Uber failed to ensure passenger safety, even after the authority suspended the corporation’s license two years ago. The decision to revoke Uber’s license caused the company’s shares to fall over 1%.
The city stated that the high amount of violent crimes that occur in these vehicles, particularly sexual assaults, make using Uber very risky for London passengers. In addition, Transport for London identified significant safety breaches within Uber’s framework that the company failed to remedy. For example, Uber allows unauthorized drivers to upload photos to unassociated Uber accounts, allowing potentially dangerous and inexperienced drivers on the road – including drivers that Transport for London previously revoked or suspended.
What Are Uber’s Next Steps?
Since London is a major city and Uber’s largest European market, Uber does not have plans to allow this decision to pass anytime soon. Instead, the company is appealing Transport for London’s revocation of their license. For the time being, Uber will continue to operate in London normally until after the appeal ends.
However, the decision by Transport for London has had a major impact on the company’s financial situation. Shares of Uber stock fell by 1.5% in New York City, and since London was a major source of revenue for the company, experts believe that Uber could fail to turn a profit until 2021. Uber is already experiencing significant financial struggle, reporting a loss of over $1 billion in its latest quarter.
The TfL acknowledged that Uber had made improvements since the first instance of losing their license back in 2017, but that:
“… TfL has identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk. 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.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan supported the TfL saying that “Keeping Londoners safe is my absolute number-one priority, and TfL have identified a pattern of failure by Uber that has directly put passengers’ safety at risk.”
Could a License Revocation Happen in the United States?
While Uber has lost its license to operate in London, one may wonder if United States cities could also end the company’s operations over safety concerns as well. However, while the safety risks that surround rideshare vehicles are significant, it is not likely that a city in the United States would – or could – make the same decision.
Uber has had a contentious history with the city of London before, with its previous license suspension occurring in 2017. In addition, London has the power to revoke these types of operations that cities in the United States cannot – including major cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. In the state of California, only the state has the power to revoke Uber operation licenses, and this rule is true in many other areas of the United States.
To combat the dangers that rideshare vehicles pose to people, it is important for riders, drivers, and community members to stay vigilant when using these services and to urge major companies like Uber and Lyft to strengthen their security policies.
Uber and Lyft both claim to be making changes to how they screen drivers, issue suspensions, and implement safety tools within their app interfaces. However, significant gaps in safety still exist – just like the ones that Transport for London discovered in Uber’s framework.
Thousands of violent crimes occur in rideshare vehicles operated by Uber and Lyft every single year – it is unsurprising that the city of London made the decision to suspend Uber’s license. If you are the victim of violence at the hands of an Uber or Lyft driver, you have legal options available to you.
We at Estey & Bomberger find it interesting that companies like Uber and Lyft can continue to operate despite the known risks to passengers. We applaud the city of London and the TfL identifying and publicizing the pattern of failures we have been working to change for years. Our compassionate law firm will continue to advocate for victims until these necessary changes are made. We know first hand that lives are shattered because Uber and Lyft are more concerned about their profits then they are for the safety of their customers. Speak to your Uber assault attorney as soon as possible to discuss your next steps and to begin the lawsuit filing process.