It was an extraordinary decision for Transport for London (TfL) to announce on Friday that it would not be renewing Uber’s private hire operator licence, effectively banning the service after 30 September. But the ruling was an indictment of Uber the company rather than the broader ride-hailing concept or labour model, and judges the embattled platform on a tumultuous past rather than its promise of new beginnings.
It is a decision that hurts Londoners more than it protects them. However, convincing London that Uber is deserving of the public trust – in its appeal against the ruling – will be a critical test of whether its new leadership can navigate the company beyond the stormy waters weathered over the past few months. No stranger to regulatory strife, Uber’s approach to dealing with government has matured considerably since its early days of rampant permissionless innovation, but the backlash continues, especially in Europe. Uber was banned entirely in Denmark in April and some or all of its services have been suspended in Bulgaria, Hungary, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.
Uber deserved to lose its licence – Londoners’ safety must come first by Sadiq Khan
From the steam engine to the web, Britain has a long history of inventing and embracing brilliant new technology, often with London leading the way with the very latest developments.
In recent years, we have seen great leaps forward in areas such as green technology, medical innovations and contactless payments on the underground, but also with mobile phone applications that can make the lives of Londoners easier – whether it’s ordering food, renting a flat or doing financial transactions.
Why Uber’s fate could herald backlash against ‘digital disruptors’
Giuliana Ingegneri is worried about her father, Adriano. Since December he has combined his job as an Uber driver with stints at the family business. But on Friday, Transport for London’s bombshell announcement that the technology giant’s licence will not be renewed in the capital sent shockwaves through the Ingegneris’ Tooting home.
“My dad helps out with the family carpet cleaning business so the flexible hours work well for him,” said Giuliana, 16. “He also has diabetes so it’s important he can work when he wants so he can attend his medical appointments. Sometimes he will work 20 hours a day and earn around £300 and on others he will only make £8 a day.”