Uber Returns to London

Uber Returns to London

Uber has won a legal battle to restore its operating license in London. A judge ruled on Monday the embattled California-based company is a fit and proper operator and should be allowed to operate in the UK capital.

The ride-sharing company’s license was taken away last year over “historical failings” that involved gross misconduct and breaking of the rules.

“I’m satisfied that they are doing what a reasonable business in their sector could be expected to do, perhaps even more,” Judge Tan Ikram said on Monday. “Despite their historical failings, I find them, now, to be a fit and proper person to hold a London… operator’s license.”

The ruling came as a reprieve for Uber, who has been taking hit from all angles this year. Uber is battling a lawsuit threatening to shut it down back home in California, its largest market. An opening such as the London ruling will shed some weight off its burden of financial losses. Uber’s shares rose 6% in pre-market US trading following the ruling.

Uber’s license was taken away in 2019 over safety concerns. The company failed to address complaints over safety that involves identification of its drivers to protect riders.

The ride-sharing company has apologized for its mistakes, including thousands of trips conducted where drivers other than advertised picked up passengers. The US cab giant said it has made notable efforts to address the concerns by improving insurance document verification systems and rolling out real-time identification, Reuters reported.

Jamie Heywood, Uber’s boss for Northern and Eastern Europe said the company’s commitment to safety has paid off.

“This decision is a recognition of Uber’s commitment to safety and we will continue to work constructively with TfL,” he said.

However, the Transport for London (TfL) said it will keep an eye on Uber. London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is also the chairman of TfL said the transport must stick to its obligations.

“I can assure Londoners that TfL will continue to closely monitor Uber and will not hesitate to take swift action should they fail to meet the strict standards required to protect passengers,” Khan said in a statement.

However, following the announcement of the decision, protest erupted by London’s traditional cab drivers who believe the ruling is a threat to their means of livelihood.

“Uber has demonstrated time and time again that it simply can’t be trusted to put the safety of Londoners, its drivers and other road users above profit. By holding up their hands and finally accepting some responsibility, Uber has managed to pull the wool over the eyes of the court and create a false impression that it has changed for the better,” the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association said in a statement.

On the other side of its troubles lies competition. Estonian Bolt and Indian Ola have overtime occupied much of the ride-sharing space in the absence of Uber in London. This means the American company will need to double effort to get back on its feet again through the radar of watchdogs.

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