Uber seeks talks with London mayor to renew licence


Uber appImage copyright
Reuters

Uber is prepared to make concessions to ensure its licence to operate in London is renewed, its general manager for the capital has said.

Tom Elvidge told the Sunday Times: “While we haven’t been asked to make any changes, we’d like to know what we can do.”

He added: “That requires a dialogue we sadly haven’t been able to have.”

Transport for London told the ride-hailing app firm it was not fit to hold a private hire operator licence.

A TfL spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment further.

Uber has been asking to meet Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, since his election in May 2016 but those requests have been rejected, according to sources close to the US company.

More than 630,000 people have signed an online petition in a bid to keep Uber operating in London after its licence expires on 30 September.

It has 21 days to appeal TfL’s decision and can continue to provide its services in the capital “until the appeals process has been exhausted” – a point Mr Khan reiterated in a response to the change.org petition.

TfL made the same point in a tweet on Sunday:

TfL cited failures to report serious criminal offences, conduct sufficient background checks on drivers and other safety issues as grounds for not renewing Uber’s licence.

Concessions by Uber are likely to centre on passenger safety and benefits for drivers, limits on their working hours, and holiday pay.

Despite the more conciliatory language from Mr Elvidge, Uber said in a series of tweets on Sunday that it would challenge the TfL decision “in the courts to defend the livelihoods of drivers & the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use Uber”.

“Drivers who use Uber in London are licensed by TfL and have been through the same enhanced DBS [Disclosure and Barring Service] background checks as black cab drivers.

“We have always followed TfL rules on reporting serious incidents, with a dedicated team that works closely with the Metropolitan Police.”

Although there are apps such as Mytaxi and Gett that allow passengers to hail black cabs in London, as well as those from minicab firms such as Addison Lee, Uber has no direct rival in the capital.

Estonian-based Taxify was forced to suspend services just days after launching in London earlier this month because it did not have a TfL licence.

The situation is different in the US, however, where Lyft has won market share this year following a series of PR disasters by Uber that resulted in the ousting of founder Travis Kalanick as chief executive in June.

Uber’s share of the US ride-hailing market has fallen from 91% in 2014 to 74.3% in August, according to data from Second Measure, which tracks credit card purchases.

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Getty Images

Image caption

Lyft replaced its pink moustache mascot with the Amp sign this year

Lyft has 23.4% of the market, with other apps such as Via, Juno, Gett and Sidecar on 2.2%.

The Sunday Telegraph reported that senior Lyft executives had three face-to-face meetings with TfL and City Hall officials in the past year, as well as two conference calls.

The meetings, revealed in a Freedom of Information request, do not indicate that Lyft is preparing to launch in London, however.

Lyft competes with Uber in hundreds of US cities and has styled itself as a more ethical and responsible operator than its bigger rival.



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