Uber is seeking to renew its operator license in London. Last year, city officials refused to renew the license based on public safety and security concerns. The decision has been appealed by the rideshare company.
Uber has argued its case today at Westminster Magistrates’ Court saying it has made important changes, including improving procedures for filing complaints against criminal actions. The court hearing is expected to last several days. Tom de la Mare, who is representing Uber, told the court that the company had taken the "unusual" stance of not challenging Transport of London's reasons for not renewing the license, saying, "We accept Transport of London's decision in September was the right decision on the evidence at the time." De la Mare argued, however, that Transport of London’s last three inspections demonstrated a "perfect record of compliance."
According to news reports, Uber had sent a memo to Transport for London informing them that 1,148 London-licensed Uber drivers had been accused of "category A" crimes, such as sexual incidents, stalking and dangerous driving. Uber also admitted that its drivers had taken eye tests over a video conference service called Push Doctor, saying, "[Tom] Elvidge [head of Uber UK and Ireland] accepts that, with hindsight, the eye tests offered by the Push Doctor service may not have been adequate." Transport of London argues that eye exams "could only be conducted in person".
Justin Bowden, national secretary at GMB, the union for taxi drivers, told the BBC: “Uber lost its licence in London because it refused to play by London’s rules, particularly on the crucial issue of passenger safety, and it won’t get it back until it accepts that an ‘Uber’s way or no way’ attitude to safety and its drivers will not prevail.”
According to the company, they have 45,000 drivers and 3.6 million regular passengers in London. Uber, which in the past reported criminal complaints to Transport for London, now notifies the police of crimes. Uber is available in over 40 towns and cities across the UK and has an estimated 50,000 drivers in Britain, with approximately 40,000 in London. The company has lost its licenses in Brighton and York but has obtained new licenses in Sheffield, Cambridge, Nottingham, and Leicester.
Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot will determine if Uber is "fit and proper" to hold an operator license in London now, rather than deciding if Transport of London's decision was appropriate in September. She has stated that the 18-month provisional license Uber had requested would be "too long" for her to grant.