Manchester calls Uber in for talks

Written by Sam Trendall on 29 November 2019 in News

Following TfL’s decision to uphold revoked licence, authority is reported to be considering whether taxi app should continue to operate in the city

Credit: PA

On the back of Transport for London upholding the decision to strip Uber of its licence to operate in the capital, Manchester City Council is understood to have asked the taxi app to attend urgent talks.

It has been widely reported that executives from the firm have been asked to meet with local authority officials as soon as possible. 

Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods, said that, irrespective of the consumer merits of Uber’s services, its “business model does cause some concerns”.

“Local licensing standards are undermined by the volume of drivers and vehicles working on the Uber platform – as well as some other operators in Manchester – that have been licensed by authorities with much lower standards and licence conditions,” he added.  “We work hard in Manchester to ensure that our residents and visitors are driven by drivers that are fit and proper to hold a licence, and in vehicles that are safe and high quality; but that is made immeasurably harder by drivers and vehicles flooding the city from other local authorities over whom we have no direct control.”

London first decided in 2017 not to renew Uber’s private hire operator’s licence. Since then, the firm has been granted several extensions to its existing licence and continued to work in the city as it makes it way through the appeals process.

On Monday, TfL acknowledged that Uber has “made a number of positive changes and improvements” in the past year.

But it concluded that a “pattern of failures… including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk” mean that the decision to revoke its licence should be upheld.

“A key issue identified was that a change to Uber's systems allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts,” TfL said. “This allowed them to pick up passengers as though they were the booked driver, which occurred in at least 14,000 trips - putting passenger safety and security at risk.”

It added: “This means all the journeys were uninsured and some passenger journeys took place with unlicensed drivers, one of which had previously had their licence revoked by TfL. Another failure allowed dismissed or suspended drivers to create an Uber account and carry passengers, again compromising passenger safety and security.”

Uber has indicated that it will appeal TfL’s decision. It is free to continue operating in London while it does so.


About the author

Sam Trendall is editor of PublicTechnology

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