“It is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured." 

By Alison Fox
November 25, 2019
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/Getty Images

London has not renewed Uber's license to operate in the city, citing passenger safety concerns over the app's reported surge of unauthorized drivers. 

Transport for London said on Monday that a change to Uber’s system allowed unauthorized drivers to upload their own photos to other driver’s accounts and then pick up passengers. There were an estimated 14,000 trips, which they said put passengers at risk as the rides were uninsured and some took place with unlicensed drivers, including one who had had their license revoked. 

The transit authority also accused Uber of allowing dismissed or suspended drivers to create an account on the app and accept trips.

“Safety is our absolute top priority,” Helen Chapman, the director of licensing, regulation and charging at TfL, said in a statement on Monday, adding: “it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured. It is clearly concerning that these issues arose, but it is also concerning that we cannot be confident that similar issues won't happen again in future.”

London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan echoed a similar sentiment on Twitter. 

“There is undoubtedly a place for innovative companies in London — in fact we are home to some of the best in the world. But it is essential that companies play by the rules to keep their customers safe,” he wrote. “I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users but their safety is the paramount concern.”

Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Travel + Leisure.

Blasting the decision, James Farrar, the chair of the labor union IWGB private hire drivers branch, told CNBC that it was a “hammer blow” to regulated Uber drivers and asked for an “urgent meeting with the mayor” to discuss how to protect drivers.

Last year, Uber was granted a 15-month private hire operator's license in London, according to the regulator, which added that a “pattern of failures” has since placed passengers at risk. In 2017, the city rejected the ride-share app’s application for a new license, ruling it was not “fit and proper.”

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