Uber has been stripped of its London license over safety failures.

A “pattern of failures” on safety and security issues was the reason regulators gave for Uber losing its license to carry paying passengers in London for the second time in just two years and pending an appeal.

Among these failures, unauthorized drivers were able to upload their photos to others’ accounts so that–on as many as 14,000 trips–a driver other than the advertised one picked up passengers, Transport for London (TfL) said. 

The ride hailing firm says it will appeal the decision, yet the process could include court procedures and is likely to drag on for months, allowing Uber’s approximately 45,000 drivers in London–one of the company’s largest markets–to continue operating for the time being.   

In a statement, the TfL said it had “identified a pattern of failures by the company including several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk”, and that a number of journeys had gone uninsured.

“TfL does not have confidence that similar issues will not reoccur in the future, which has led it to conclude that the company is not fit and proper at this time,” the regulator added. 

Uber responded that its operating systems were robust and that it would also introduce a new facial matching process to avoid a repeat of the issue with unauthorized drivers.

“Over the last two years we have fundamentally changed how we operate in London,” tweeted CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, who took on his current role weeks before Uber first lost its London license in 2017. “We have come very far—and we will keep going, for the millions of drivers and riders who rely on us.”

Uber’s shares fell by nearly 4% as markets opened in New York on Monday before largely recovering.

The company’s London struggles are not the first time that the Silicon Valley firm has run into regulatory headaches, with it recently being forced to withdraw completely from markets such as Copenhagen and Hungary.


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Paul Imison
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