TfL’s decision to strip Uber of its licence, last week, came as a surprise to the mobility world and has since led to talks of an appeal. Shwetha Surender, Frost & Sullivan’s, Industry Principal, Mobility Group expands on the issue.
The TfL’s contention included the lack of safety norms; in particular, insufficient background checks that Uber employs with its driver partners; and possible use of the Greyball programme that does not give regulators a clear picture of operations.
Uber will be appealing the decision and has a petition underway. Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s newly appointed CEO has already issued an apology, which seems to be well received by the Mayor of London as TfL will soon be opening a dialogue with the company.
Uber has not been favourably regarded by a number of cities across Europe, and potentially, this move by London, a city that until recently was quite supportive of Uber, could signal the first in a series of renewed regulatory pushback against the company.
It is too early to say whether or not the move will stifle innovation. Mayor Sadiq Khan maintains that the city will continue to support new mobility projects. London is encouraging new business models such as demand responsive shuttles and bike sharing.
However, a point to consider is that carsharing growth has not been as prolific in London as it has in other cities; in part due to limited government support. Addison Lee’s license is under review as well, with a move to increase the fee for operating private hire vehicles.
London’s attitude toward Lyft (if it does enter the city) and other asset light models like Deliveroo and Hermes could be an indication of the City’s future tone toward disruptive business models.