Uber could remain on London’s streets for more than a year - despite being banned by the capital’s transport body last week.
Transport for London (TfL) announced in a shock ruling on Friday that it would not be renewing the ride-hailing app’s operating licence, which is due to expire at the end of the month.
Pointing towards Uber’s approach to reporting serious crimes and how criminal record checks are carried out, TfL said Uber was “not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence”.
Uber has since appealed the ruling, saying the ban would leave 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and “deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport”.
Around 3.5 million people regularly use the app in the capital, according to the company. More than 740,000 people have signed an online petition launched by Uber urging TfL to reverse its decision.
Now, experts say the appeal means that Uber could continue to run in London well into 2018, with the company allowed to keep operating until the case has been decided.
Taxi licensing consultant Patrick Nolan told The Times that the process “could last 12 months or more”.
He also joined other critics in arguing that it is TfL’s job to carry out criminal record checks on drivers - not operators like Uber.
In recent years, there have been several claims of sexual assaults by Uber drivers.
“This is a role that the licensing authority is responsible for, not the company with which or for whom the driver works,” Nolan said.
But some have questioned whether the Uber case will make it to court, after Sadiq Khan asked TfL officials to “make themselves available” to meet the boss of Uber, who has apologised for “the mistakes we’ve made”.
In a letter to the London Evening Standard, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi accepted that the company had “got things wrong”, adding that the firm will challenge the licence decision “with the knowledge that we must also change”.
He went on: “We won’t be perfect, but we will listen to you; we will look to be long-term partners with the cities we serve; and we will run our business with humility, integrity and passion.”
According to the Press Association, the Mayor of London “welcomed” the apology.
“Obviously I am pleased that he has acknowledged the issues that Uber faces in London,” Khan said.
“Even though there is a legal process in place, I have asked TfL to make themselves available to meet with him.”