Uber

Meeting: 
MQT on 2018-07-19
Session date: 
July 19, 2018
Reference: 
2018/1807
Question By: 
Florence Eshalomi
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor

Question

Please update me on the current situation surrounding Uber and their Private Hire Operators Licence?

Answer

Answer for Uber

Answer for Uber

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you, Chairman.  Thank you for the question.  I fully supported TfL’s decision to refuse Uber a private hire operating licence last September [2017].  Those who criticised that decision should note that Uber has now accepted that TfL’s decision was entirely justified.  When TfL made its decision, Uber was taking a highly lax approach to public safety.  The lack of proactive reporting of alleged crimes to the police was extremely alarming, a view also shared by the MPS.  TfL made it crystal clear that safety must be at the top of the agenda for all operators. 

 

This has now been vindicated by the recent court judgment.  At the appeal, the magistrate agreed that Uber was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence at the time of TfL’s decision in September [2017].  The company’s previous approach showed a total disregard for the rules by which everyone in the industry must play.  Uber thought it was too big and too powerful to be held to the same standards as everyone else.  It was dismissive and misleading, lacking the openness and transparency that is expected in London. 

 

As a result of big changes implemented by Uber since TfL’s decision, the magistrate concluded that Uber had provided sufficient evidence to the court that it was now a fit and proper person to hold an operating licence.  Uber was therefore granted a 15‑month licence by the magistrate, shorter than what it wanted, and it set up stringent conditions that TfL will thoroughly monitor and enforce.  They also had to pay all of TfL’s legal costs, amounting to £425,000. 

 

Uber is now on probation.  It has been forced to overhaul its culture and ethos.  It is actually making changes globally.  It has appointed three non‑executive directors to the Uber London Board and introduced new arrangements to ensure that the rules in London are fully observed.  Uber has also introduced new systems for the proactive reporting of allegations straight to the police.  Uber now has to prove that it has truly changed in order to hold on to its licence.  It must demonstrate that it can play by the rules. 

 

TfL’s original decision and the court’s judgment show that in London regulation now works and is an integral part of keeping Londoners safe.  As Mayor, I am working hard to ensure that London continues to be at the forefront of innovation and a natural home for new and exciting companies, but everyone has to play by the rules.

 

Florence Eshalomi AM:  Thank you for that, Mr Mayor.  I think it is right that the safety of drivers and passengers is paramount and that TfL took this action.  As a result of the ruling, you will be aware that Uber has to now start reporting any serious crimes that involve passengers directly to the police, rather than the ridiculous situation where victims were having to report that crime to the police.  Have you had any reassurances from Uber on any way that it will make sure this works and that it is going to adhere to this?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  You are right, the position before was not tenable.  There were big concerns from the police, TfL and ourselves.  The magistrate laid down a number of stringent conditions and they include, as you say, proactive reporting to TfL and the police.  These will be regularly checked.  I think every six months they will be regularly checked by TfL.  TfL as the regulator takes its role very seriously.  I have been reassured that TfL will closely monitor Uber’s adherence to the conditions and ‑ I will be frank ‑ take appropriate action if the required standards are not met. 

 

Florence Eshalomi AM:  I know that TfL’s ruling was solely based on safety but one of the things that we looked at on the Transport Committee and in the Labour Group was the poor working practices for drivers.  There were some really shocking conditions coming through.  One of the conditions of the new agreement was that Uber would not circumvent obligations such as medical declarations.  Again, are you satisfied that drivers will be tested?  If not, will they be retested?

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  This is a really important point.  There was a concern about those who had been passed, in inverted commas, ‘medically fit’, had not had a proper examination in person.  We were hearing stories about Skype interviews and all the rest of it.  TfL has identified all the applicants and licensed drivers with whom there were concerns around their medicals and they have undertaken a new medical with a general practitioner (GP) rather than what was being done before by Uber.  Uber understands that from now onwards, any new driver or those whose licence is being renewed must make sure they do proper medicals rather than the ones that were taking place before. 

 

Florence Eshalomi AM:  That is good.  We will, on this side, definitely continue to monitor those 14 conditions set by TfL.  I think it is right that any decision to extend its licence should again come back to TfL and the Committee.

 

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Can I just say this?  It is an example where ‑ Chairman, if I may ‑ we should be encouraged and proud of London’s response.  For too long cities around the world were scared to take on the new big boys and girls, and last September, doing this properly, TfL made a decision and we stood by TfL.  There were others who were saying that we had made a bad decision, and others who were using all sorts of other theories why we had taken the decision to stand by TfL.  There were concerns about ‘chumocracies’ in relation to the relationship between the previous administration, members of a certain political party and Uber.  We have shown how things should be done.  The rest of the world has taken note and has followed our lead, but also Uber has changed the way they operate around the world.  The global chief executive officer (CEO) deserves credit, I think.

 

Florence Eshalomi AM:  Yes, definitely.  Thank you, Mr Mayor.