Uber has just been granted a 30-month license to continue its ridesharing business in London. This ends a lengthy battle with Transport for London [TfL] over Uber’s safety protocols.
In a tweet on Saturday, the ridesharing company said: “We’re delighted to announce @TfL has granted Uber a new 30 month licence in London. TfL rightly holds our industry to the highest regulatory and safety standards and we are please to have met their bar.”
In 2017, the London transportation agency refused Uber’s application for renewal of license. This was a big blow to Uber as the London license represents one of its biggest not just in Europe, but in other major markets globally.
Uber’s “Greyball,” a tool that uses data collated from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and circumvent law enforcement trying to crack down on its services, came under investigation by the US Department of Justice in 2017. The Greyball tool allowed the company to deploy a fake version the app to evade law enforcement agencies that were trying to suppress its service in cities including Portland, Ore, Boston, and Las Vegas.
The investigation soon spread to Philadelphia—leading to a request from the Justice Department asking the Philadelphia Parking Authority to provide it with information about the use of the tool to enter and operate in certain markets.
The Greyball tool was exposed by The New York Times back in March 2017, and eventually led to massive protests by in several cities. The ride-hailing company later came out to declare to the whole world that it was no longer using the tool; but of course, this only happened soon after The New York Times report.
At the time, the TfL said Uber was not fit to continue its ridesharing business in the city.
“Transport for London (TfL) has today (Friday 22 September, 2017) informed Uber London Limited that it will not be issued with a private hire operator licence after expiry of its current licence on 30 September.
“TfL’s regulation of London’s taxi and private hire trades is designed to ensure passenger safety. Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and “demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate. TfL must also be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a licence.
“TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.”