A PETITION aimed at persuading TfL to give Uber a new licence to operate its crapsicab service in London has hit a quarter of a million signatures in just three days.
On Friday afternoon, Uber sent a link to the email to everyone who has ever used the app asking them to sign, saying: "We are sure Londoners will be as astounded as we are by this decision. By trying to ban the app from the capital, the Mayor and Transport for London have caved into a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice. "
The email failed to address any of the concerns that had led TfL to deny it a new licence, but since then, new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has penned an open letter to London in the Evening Standard, which he summed up in 140 characters thusly:
Dear London: we r far from perfect but we have 40k licensed drivers and 3.5mm Londoners depending on us. Pls work w/us to make things right— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) September 22, 2017
The company has confirmed that it will make changes in order to be granted a new licence and will work with the Metropolitan Police.
However, its first gut reaction appears to have been to get the public outcry rattling along, showing it still has a long way to go to reform its ways.
INQ has seen paid Google Search results pointing to the petition which suggest its priority remains getting the angry mob insensed rather than the issues. Earlier in the year, it issued a "mea culpa" over sexism allegations that similarly stressed how hurt it was, rather than that it had done anything wrong.
On Friday, the company was told by Transport for London that it is not "fit and proper" to operate a private hire service in London and it will not have a renewal after its current holding licence expires on September 30th. It will, however, be allowed to operate during the appeals process.
There had been rife speculation that Uber was not to be granted a new licence, following concerns about driver conditions and public safety.
If it had been granted a new licence, it would have cost the company nearly 3 million pounds under new tariffs set by TfL for fleets of over 10,000 vehicles.
TfL stated that "Uber's approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility". It has been accused of failing to properly report criminal offences, obtain valid medical certificates, and of blocking official regulators from transparency about its operations.
It singled out the company's 'Greyball' app which it says is specifically designed to prevent outsiders, including TfL from seeing its operations.
The news came as a huge victory for members of the GMB Union which has been campaigning to have Uber's licence revoked. Black cab drivers have been staging protests and blockades for years arguing that Uber's dominance goes against the long-standing agreements surrounding the special place that Black cabs hold in London.
However, opinion is divided with many people loyal and reliant on Ubers convenience and cheap fares, flipping out on social media.
Loosing #Uber makes london more unsafe for young people, especially students who can't afford the ridiculous rates of black cabs.— Lauren Powell (@powell6269) September 22, 2017
Black cabs have no right to be protected like some sort of listed building. Slow, uncomfy & expensive hence why customers go elsewhere #Uber— Dan Beasley (@danbeasley1) September 22, 2017
We also liked this from TV Channel, Dave:
Meanwhile, Emma Bartlett, a partner at law firm Charles Russell Speechlys comments: "It is likely that TfL's stance proves that pressure on businesses to do the right thing can significantly impact your business in an immediate and very public way that legislation cannot achieve. This is a lesson for similar gig economy companies, to do the right thing before being told publicly that you've taken advantage and contravened the law."
This is the second app-based ride-sharing service to be shut down by TfL this month. Newcomer Taxify was forced to shut down after just three days when it transpired it was "piggybacking" on a licence rather than having one of its own.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said of the Uber ruling: "I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology… However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect… I fully support TfL's decision - it would be wrong if TfL continued to licence Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoner's safety and security."
Although all Uber's drivers are self-employed, if the decision were to stand, it would leave a large gap in the market, and a large number of drivers suddenly unemployed. It is likely therefore that another player will probably step up to fill Uber's shoes very quickly, and the black cabbies will hate that too. µ
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