LONDON (AP) — Uber will lose its license to operate in London because it may be endangering public safety and security, the local regulator said Friday, in a severe blow to a company already facing big questions over its corporate culture.
The company, which has been beset by a litany of scandals over its management style — from accusations of sexism to the illegal use of software to trick regulators — was told it was not “fit and proper” to keep operating in London, where it has 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers.
The regulator, Transport for London, said it “considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.”
It cited instances in which Uber failed to report serious criminal offences as well as its penchant to deceive regulators in its decision to not renew its license when it expires on Sept. 30. Uber said it will appeal, during which time it can continue operating.
The decision startled many — even though the ride-hailing business has many critics. The city’s black-cab drivers — who spend years learning the city streets to pass the famed “Knowledge” test — objected to the interlopers who undercut their business. Unions objected to the company’s treatment of its workforce.
In a city where the Labour Party is in the majority, many of these issues — particularly in terms of its treatment of employees — would have resonated with the opposition party’s voters. Labour Mayor Sadiq Khan was quick to endorse the decision of an agency he supervises.
“It’s a technical decision that picks up the spirit of the age,” said Tony Travers, an expert on local government at the London School of Economics.
Uber had been warned. Earlier this year, Transport for London renewed its license on a limited basis, giving it six months to address concerns.
Khan said that any operator of taxi services in the city “needs to play by the rules.”
“Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security,” he 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.”
For its part, Uber accused the city of caving in to special…