by Graham Pierrepoint
It’s certainly been a controversial year for Uber, the taxi-hailing app which oversees millions of passengers and thousands of freelance drivers worldwide. While they may have been on the crest of a wave a year ago, it seems that the bubble has burst for the firm several times over this year. Ongoing investigations into workplace culture at the firm’s offices has seen heads roll, including the departure of the CEO, the brand came under fire for increasing surge pricing during protests at JFK airport earlier this year, and it has continued to face legal action worldwide in the interest of competitive fairness for other taxi drivers. While the brand is looking to pick itself back up from what has been an arguably disastrous 2017 so far, one of the biggest blows has just landed – as the app is now no longer functional in the UK capital.
Transport for London has agreed that Uber is not fit to hold a private hire licence in the city – on the grounds of safety and security – as it is believed that TfL took considerable concern with the way that Uber vets its drivers. The app has been vehemently fought against by independent cab firms across the capital, with taxi drivers stating that gridlocking was a major issue. It’s not the first time that the app and its drivers have been outright banned from practicing – as it was agreed earlier this April that the cars would not be welcome in Italy at all in the interest of competitive fairness.
The news that Uber will be banned from operating in London has been met with mixed responses. For those dependent upon the firm – whether as a driver or as a passenger – it is obviously bad news indeed. It’s thought that around 40,000 drivers operate under the Uber banner in and around the city, meaning that they may now face unemployment – with millions regularly using the app now having to return to traditional hailing. Traditional cab firms will likely be celebrating – as will those concerned about passenger safety and competition in the city – but it is a moment that is inherently bittersweet.
Uber, of course, will be challenging TfL’s decision – but the world will now be looking to see what the firm does next. Once on the brink of expanding into a wealth of different services such as medicinal supply and more besides, 2017 seems to be a year that Uber will very gladly want to see the back of.