A cross-party group of 10 MPs have urged Transport for London (TfL) to strip Uber of its operator licence by signing a letter written by Labour MP Wes Streeting, the chair of an all party parliamentary group on taxis.
Conservative, Labour, and Liberal Democrat MPs signed the letter, which argues that Uber’s licence should not be renewed when it expires at the end of the month.
The MPs claim that Uber is an “unfit and improper operator” that does not do enough to protect passenger safety in London.
They specifically point to Uber’s apparent failure to report sex attacks by drivers on passengers, before going on to criticise Uber’s business practices in a number of other areas.
“Police figures show that an allegation of rape or sexual assault is made against Uber drivers every 11 days and the Metropolitan Police have expressed concern that Uber is ‘allowing situations to develop that clearly affect the safety and security of the public’ — not least by failing to report all alleged offences to Police so that they can be properly investigated,” the letter reads.
The MPs also take issue with the treatment of Uber drivers, saying that some of them take home as little as £2 an hour. “It is deeply regrettable that Uber had to be dragged through the courts by the GMB trade union to force the company to accept its obligations as an employer,” the MPs said, before going on to say Uber is avoiding paying its full and fair share of UK tax by basing itself in the Netherlands.
The letter concludes by saying TfL should follow cities in the US, Canada, Australia, Italy, Denmark, Germany, Bulgaria, and Hungary by revoking Uber’s licence.
TfL has got a tricky job on its hands. Londoners like the convenience of Uber and the fact that the service is usually cheaper than taking one of the city’s traditional black cabs. It also receives a substantial licence fee from Uber — and that might go up if it decides to hike up the fees for a private hire licence even more.
But black cab drivers, who have to take an exam before they can transport people from A-Z, have been against Uber from the outset. They say Uber is cutting corners and acting illegally, while infringing on their livelihoods. Local cab drivers from areas outside London, such as Brighton, also claim TfL-licensed Uber vehicles operate in their cities.
An Uber spokesperson said: “3.5 million Londoners use Uber to get a reliable ride in the capital. More than 40,000 drivers rely on our app to make a living, with average fares last year of £15 an hour after our service fee. Drivers who use Uber are licensed by Transport for London and have been through the same enhanced background checks as black cab drivers.
“Our technology goes further to enhance safety with every trip tracked and recorded by GPS and we employ former Met Police officers who work closely with the police. We want to continue contributing to our city, including with the Clean Air Plan and diesel scrappage scheme we announced last week.”