After failing to secure a renewal for a license to operate a private hire vehicle service in London last September, Uber — the controversial transportation startup valued at around $62 billion — has finally had a short reprieve. Today, a judge hearing the Uber appeal (appearing as Uber London Limited, or ULL) against the city’s transportation regulator, Transport for London, said that the company would provisionally get a 15 month license, so that it could continue to work on satisfying the conditions that TfL said that it had failed to meet previously, ahead of potentially applying for a regular, five-year license after it demonstrated that it was now playing nice.
“While ULL was not a fit and proper person… it is now a fit and proper person, and I grant a license,” said chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot in her ruling. She said her decision came from seeing substantial documentary evidence that Uber has modified its practices and seems committed to trying to adhere to this. She noted that TfL went into this case noting that it would not object to Uber London Limited (ULL) getting a license per se.
It will also pay £425,000 in court charges for this case.
Uber has been in London since 2012, starting with 300 drivers in that year and now ballooning to 48,000 registered drivers in 2018. Just under 3.6 million riders used it in a 12-week period, its UK general manager Tom Elvidge said in testimony this week.
But that aggressive growth came with a dark cloud, with many saying that it failed to heed to existing safety and other regulations and best practices when doing so. “The attitude of the previous managers appeared to be grow the business, come what may,” Arbuthnot noted.
TfL grants a license “where it is satisfied that the applicant is a fit and proper person.” At issue was the fact that TfL didn’t think that it was, and Uber was appealing that.