Uber keeps licence to operate in London despite 'historical failings' over passenger safety

UBER has today won a battle to keep its licence to operate in London after a legal fight against a ban.

The ride-hailing app was accused of a "pattern of failures", including putting passengers' safety at risk.

Uber was previously blocked from London in September 2017 but won an appeal after vowing to to introduce new safety measures.

But Transport for London refused to renew its operating licence in November last year leading to a legal fight.

The company today won its battle to get a new licence at Westminster Magistrates' Court despite their "historical failings".

Deputy chief magistrate Tan Ikram ruled the firm to be "fit and proper" to hold a private vehicle licence.

The court heard how TfL rejected Uber's application for a new London licence due to "several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk".

This included a change to Uber's systems that allowed unauthorised people to upload their photographs to legitimate driver accounts and pick up passengers.

But the company insists it has been working on its safety features – including a dedicated Safety Toolkit, which riders and drivers can easily access important features to keep them safe.

Customers can also designate up to five friends and family members who can follow their journey, as well as Check Your Ride alerts to make sure riders are getting into the correct licensed car.

Uber was allowed to continue operating for its 3.5million London users and 45,000 drivers while the appeal was pending.

The last ban in 2017 saw almost 400,000 Londoners sign a petition to keep the app alive in the capital.

But the move was welcomed by black cab drivers who have long campaigned against the private hire company.

Uber is available in 440 cities across six continents and 20 of those are in the UK, including London, Southampton, Leeds and Glasgow.

It has faced a string of criticism- including claims of drivers raping customers and allegations its hiring process and background checks are inadequate.

The firm does not conduct fingerprint-based background checks, which traditional taxi companies generally perform before hiring drivers.

Uber has been operating during the coronavirus pandemic, with customers asked to wear a mask and sit in the back with a window open.

But it was hit hard by the crisis – suffering losses of £2.7billion in the first quarter after rides were down 80 per cent in April, CNET reports.

In May, the company announced that it would lay off 14 per cent of its employees, with CEO Khosrowshahi also waiving his salary for the remainder of the year.

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