London licence refused but extension keeps Uber on the road

Uber’s second attempt to secure a five-year operating licence in London has been blocked by Transport for London (TfL). However, the ride-hailing app will keep operating under a two-month extension to the temporary licence it has held for the last 15 months.

Uber was granted the temporary licence in 2018 after the Chief Magistrate overturned TfL’s decision not to grant a new licence. This licence, which came with strict conditions, was due to expire the day after TfL announced the extension.

Uncertainty for self-employed drivers

TfL’s decision will prolong the uncertainty for London’s 45,000 self-employed Uber drivers, who will not be able to work using the app if a licence is not granted.

Announcing the decision, a TfL spokesperson said the extension would “allow for scrutiny of additional information” before Uber applies, as it is expected to, for a full licence. TfL’s chief concerns are passenger safety and the culture within the company, particularly after it emerged that allegations of assaults by drivers had not been reported.

While the extension is in place, Uber must meet new additional passenger safety conditions to do with ride sharing, appropriate insurance and driver document checks.

Responding to the decision, Jamie Heywood, Uber’s regional general manager for northern and eastern Europe said that over the last two years the company had “launched a range of new safety features in the app” as well as “better protections for drivers”.