Can I still get an Uber in London? Is the firm being banned by TfL and has it lost its licence in the capital?

The minicab firm overturned a initial Transport for London decision to remove its licence in September 2017.

Has Uber been banned in London?

On September 22, 2017, TfL, which regulates transport in the capital, announced that it would not renew Uber's operating licence.

This means that, as of September 30, Uber would no longer be licensed, but it was able to continue to operate until all appeals are exhausted.

UberEats, the company's food delivery service, is not affected by the dispute.

TfL said Uber was "not fit and proper" to operate in London.

The move has the potential to affect more than 40,000 Uber drivers and 3.5million customers.

In London, the firm has faced criticism from unions, lawmakers and traditional black cab drivers over working conditions.

Opponents also claim it causes gridlocked roads and does not do enough to regulate its drivers.

Uber enables users to book cars using their smartphones and is available in cities across the UK.

But supporters of the app branded the decision a "Luddite" move.

Has Uber appealed the decision and where else is it banned?

Uber appealed TfL's licensing decision and Sadiq Khan has warned the legal process could take years to run its course.

The new chief executive of Uber, Dara Khosrowshahi, took charge around the time of the ban and on October 13 the company lodged its appeal.

Theresa May called the decision "disproportionate" and said it put jobs at risk.

Transport for London said Uber can continue to operate until all appeals are exhausted.

Confirming Uber would appeal against the decision in court, Tom Elvidge, the firm's general manager in London, said: "3.5 million Londoners who use our app, and more than 40,000 licensed drivers who rely on Uber to make a living, will be astounded by this decision.

"By wanting to ban our app from the capital Transport for London and the Mayor have caved into a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice. If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.

"To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.

"Drivers who use Uber are licensed by Transport for London and have been through the same enhanced DBS background checks as black cab drivers. Our pioneering technology has gone further to enhance safety with every trip tracked and recorded by GPS.

"We have always followed TfL rules on reporting serious incidents and have a dedicated team who work closely with the Metropolitan Police."

Globally, Uber endured a tumultuous 2017 after a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying at the company, leading to investor pressure which forced out former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick.

The app has been forced to quit several countries including, Italy, Denmark and Hungary and has faced regulatory battles in multiple US states and countries around the world.

In December 2017 Sheffield suspended Uber's licence after the company failed to respond to official requests about its management.

But the suspension was lifted after the council and Uber took part in "productive discussions".

What happened at the appeal?

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot ruled that TfL was right to refuse Uber a new licence in September last year on the grounds that the firm was not "fit and proper" to operate taxis in the city.

But she concluded that the company has now made enough changes to its business practices to allow it to continue operating.

The Silicon Valley giant told Westminster Magistrates' Court it had made "serious mistakes" and that TfL was correct in its September decision, but argued it had made "wholesale" reforms in the following nine months.

Uber was asking for a five-year licence when TfL rejected the application, but on June 26 told the hearing it would accept one for a 15-month "probationary" period with the restrictions agreed with TfL.

Helen Chapman, TfL's licensing, regulation and charging director, said Uber's behaviour over reporting allegations to police was "very disturbing" and criticised the firm's previous attitude towards regulation.

The company was given a 15-month operating licence on June 26, 2018 by Westminster Magistrates' Court after the company argued its corporate culture had changed.

What is Uber?

Uber is one of many companies in the relatively new "platform industry" where firms offer a way of connecting self-employed workers with potential customers.

The company provides a smartphone app that serves as the middleman between freelance cabbies and people looking for a lift home.

Uber's vast pool of workers that provides its core services do not get employment rights such as holiday pay, sick pay, or breaks like a contracted member of staff would.

This is one of several factors that has made the firm's operations controversial.

How does it work and where can I use it?

Uber is available in 440 cities across six continents and 20 of those are in the UK, including London, Southampton, Leeds and Glasgow.

You don't need to make a call to order your cab – you simply download the app (for iOS or Android) or use the mobile site (non-smartphones), and let it know your current location and where you want to go.

Users can choose from several different car options, depending on what they need.

They can choose UberX for a regular car or UberXL for a larger van or SUV.

There is also an option to ride in a luxury vehicle with UberLUX – or thrifty customers can choose to cut costs by sharing a taxi with other people heading their way.

A booking request is then forwarded to Uber which identifies the nearest available car.

Cars are available both instantly and more recently, to pre-book ahead of time.

Customers give Uber their credit or debit card details when they sign up and the fee is then deducted after the journey.

Customers also have the option to provide a rating and feedback for their drive once the journey is over.

The firm uses an algorithm so prices vary depending on demand.

"Surge pricing", where fees go up, comes into action when demand is high at times such as Saturday nights or New Year's Eve.

The app has a range of other features, including one which allows users to share their estimated arrival time with others, as well as an option to split the fare with another user.

Uber officially ruled as a taxi company

On Wednesday, December 20, the European Union's top court ruled that Uber should be classified as a transport service.

The landmark ruling means Uber will be regulated like other taxi operators.

The case followed a complaint from a professional taxi drivers’ association in Barcelona that Uber’s activities in Spain amounted to misleading practices and unfair competition from Uber’s use of non-professional drivers – a service Uber calls UberPOP and which has since been suspended in Spain and other countries.

Maciej Szpunar, Polish advocate general at the EU's Court of Justice, said that Uber was a transport firm which requires a licence to operate after a dispute involving local taxi drivers in Barcelona went before Europe's top court.

While the decision is not binding, judges normally follow the advocate's lead and this could mean Uber has to ensure their drivers are properly trained, according to the BBC.

Why has Uber been banned in Italy?

Uber has been banned from operating or advertising in Italy after a judge in Rome found it guilty of unfair practices.

The company did, however, succeeded in getting a ban on ride-hailing services involving professional drivers overturned.

UberBLACK, which books luxury cars, and the related services in Italy UberLUX, UberVAN and UberTOURA, continue to operate, as does UbeEats.

But the standard UberPOP ride hailing service – known as UberX in the UK – remains banned after a 2015 ruling by a court in Milan.

The lawsuit was filed by Italy's taxi associations who have taken the US company to court four times since 2015.

Lawyers for the taxi drivers said that the ruling blocked "the most egregious form of unfair competition ever seen in the Italian market for local public transport".

Uber's lawyers said that it was based on an outdated law and protected privileged profits.

Codacons, a consumer association, said: "With the ban on Uber's app-based services Italy is shunted back by decades, while other countries move ahead and accept new products offered by the market."

Do the drivers have to be able to speak English?

Uber drivers could be forced to take English language tests after the private hire firm LOST a High Court bid to block the new rule.

The controversial TfL ruling proposes drivers without a minimum GCSE in English will need to take a test to work.

The company launched a legal challenge alongside three individually licensed drivers.

Tom de la Mare QC, acting for Uber, argued 70,000 applicants would fail to obtain a licence under the new ruling.

The court also heard 33,000 drivers would lose their jobs over three years if the new rule came into place.

Critics suggest the test is “unrealistic” and will lead to discrimination.

But TfL says it is necessary for customer safety and public protection.

Uber has said it will appeal the decision at the Court of Appeal.

What does the latest update to the app do?

The revamped app means that Uber customers can set their friends as a destination location and can also order a takeaway courtesy of UberEats to arrive at your home at the same time as your cab.

The US firm says it is aiming to simplify the app, and will give users the option to share their calendars and contacts.

Source: Read Full Article