Uber's London licence renewed for only four months

Cab drivers claim Uber fails 'fit and proper' test

Uber's licence to operate in London has been renewed for only four months as transport authorities consider whether to grant it a five-year licence.

Black cab drivers and unions are asking Transport for London (TfL) to reject the application unless Uber make changes to its operations and working practices.

The Licensed Taxis Drivers Association (LTDA) claimed that the decision to grant Uber a 12-week licence was "sneaked out on Friday afternoon just hours before the bank holiday weekend. This was done without giving interested parties a chance to formally respond to the decision".

Uber is not a "fit and proper operator", claimed the LTDA, which alleged that Uber drivers are untrained and unsafe, passengers are unsafe in Uber vehicles, Uber is a tax-dodging firm, and that Uber exploits drivers as they do not receive sick pay, holiday, pensions or minimum wage.

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Steve McNamara, the general secretary of the LTDA, said: "Uber has had five years to prove that it is a fit and proper operator and it still can't. Whilst the Mayor and TfL have finally recognised that they have serious questions to answer, they should have taken action today to protect Londoners from a company that puts profit ahead of passengers' safety. If Uber has failed to do this in the last five years, they won't do it in the next 12 weeks."

The company was granted a five-year licence in 2012, which is set to expire on 30 May. 

A TfL spokesperson told the Guardian that: "Uber London Limited has been granted a four-month private hire operator licence. This will allow us to conclude our consideration of a five-year licence."

TfL is considering changing fees for private hire operators so that the fee correlates to the number of vehicles the operator has, with a flat per-vehicle fee for operators with more than 1,000 vehicles.

TfL stated in a letter to private hire operators: "We are considering, on a case by case basis, whether private hire operator licences of a shorter duration should be issued, until the outcome of the consultation process is known and any changes are implemented." The consultation is set to close on 16 June.

An Uber spokesperson said: "Millions of Londoners rely on Uber to get a reliable ride at the touch of a button and thousands of licensed drivers make money through our app. We look forward to continuing to help keep London moving."

In April, Uber was granted the right to appeal an employment tribunal ruling that drivers should have the same benefits as employees. A two-day hearing is set for 27 September.

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