- Uber’s CEO Dara Khosrowshahi flew to London for a secret meeting with the UK capital’s transport regulator. The meeting comes two weeks after the regulator decided not to renew Uber’s London operator’s licence. The meeting won’t guarantee that Uber can keep running in London – but both sides said it was “constructive.” Uber is facing a bunch of legal problems in the UK right now, battling a sexual assault case and fights over drivers’ rights.
LONDON – Ride-hailing company Uber has issued a brief statement about its much-anticipated meeting with London’s transport regulator about regaining its licence to operate in the capital.
New chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi flew from Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco to London to meet with Mike Brown, the commissioner for Transport for London, on Tuesday.
The meeting comes around a fortnight after TfL decided not to renew Uber’s licence. The company remains operational in London, but only while it appeals TfL’s decision.
Here’s what Uber said: “Our new CEO had a constructive meeting with the Transport Commissioner this afternoon. We hope to have further discussions over the coming weeks as we are determined to make things right in London.”
The top secret meeting was held in an undisclosed location in London, and TfL representatives refused to say who else was attending.
British journalists camped out outside TfL’s headquarters in central London in the hopes of seeing Khosrowshahi, but it appears that the meeting was held elsewhere.
— Tom Cheshire (@chesh) October 3, 2017
Transport for London issued its own statement, saying: “Today’s constructive meeting centred on what needs to happen to ensure a thriving taxi and private hire market in London where everyone operates to the same high standards. Further steps in this process will take place over the coming weeks.”
The meeting was an attempt from Uber to build bridges with TfL, rather than something that would definitively result in the firm having its licence renewed.
- (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
TfL said in September it had decided not to grant Uber a five-year operator’s licence because of the company’s approach to criminal checks on drivers, medical checks on drivers, its approach to reporting driver crime, and its potential use of its secret “Greyball” software to evade regulators. It gave Uber 21 days to appeal the process, and said the company could continue operating until the appeals process had been exhausted. That gives Uber until 13 October to lodge its appeal.
The decision came as a shock to Uber, which said its drivers went through the same checks as traditional black taxis, and that it ensured passenger safety by tracking rides with GPS. It denied using Greyball to dodge transport regulators in the UK. Uber accused TfL of putting the jobs of its 40,000 drivers at risk with the decision, and said it would fight the decision in court. Uber also launched a petition called “Save Your Uber” to drum up support from passengers, which had more than 600,000 signatures.
Though seemingly a technical regulatory issue, TfL’s ban on Uber would have considerable impact on its UK business should the decision remain permanent. Most of its drivers are located in London, and often travel more widely for fares.
Uber is fighting the ban alongside a host of other issues right now too: its most senior UK exec, Jo Bertram, quit on Monday, and it has multiple legal battles on its hands. Political party conference season also means the company is at the centre of a war of words between Labour and Conservative politicians.