Uber has been stripped of its licence to carry paying passengers in London for the second time in just over two years, pending an appeal, over a “pattern of failures” on safety and security.
Unauthorised drivers were able to upload their photos to others’ accounts so that, on over 14,000 trips, a driver other than the advertised one picked up passengers, transport regulator Transport for London (TfL) said.
The ride-hailing firm, which also operates in Australia, said it would appeal.
The process is likely to include court action and could drag on for months, allowing Uber‘s roughly 45,000 drivers in London, one of its most important markets, to keep taking rides despite its licence expiring on Monday.
TfL said it had “identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk”, and that some journeys had been uninsured.
“TfL does not have confidence that similar issues will not re-occur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time.”
Uber said its systems were robust and that it would also introduce a new facial matching process.
“Over the last two years we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London,” tweeted CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over weeks before Uber first lost its London licence in 2017.
“We have come very far — and we will keep going, for the millions of drivers and riders who rely on us.”
In London, black cab drivers who see Uber as a threat to their hard-won livelihoods have blocked streets in protest, arguing they are being unfairly undercut by an inferior service.
Uber and TfL have been at odds since the authority rejected a renewal request in 2017, faulting Uber‘s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and driver background checks, before a judge granted a probationary 15-month licence in 2018.
The firm has implemented a series of changes including 24/7 telephone support and the proactive reporting of serious incidents to London police to assuage concerns.