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

UBER still has a licence to operate in London as black cab drivers lost a High Court challenge to strike the company.

The minicab firm insists it had changed its aggressive corporate tactics and is now more responsible.

Can I still get an Uber in London?

The short answer is yes – you can!

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

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

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

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

The United Cabbies Group (UCG), which represents Hackney carriage drivers in the capital, argued that Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot's decision to grant Uber a 15-month permit was "tainted by actual or apparent bias".

The licence was granted on a "probationary" basis at Westminster Magistrates' Court in June last year after Transport for London (TfL) refused to renew it amid safety concerns.

But the judge said in August she would not hear any further cases involving the ride-hailing app after a newspaper article alleged there were financial connections between her husband, Lord Arbuthnot, and Uber.

Where has Uber been banned in the UK?

In May 2018, Uber had its licence removed in Brighton.

Councillors who had never used the service accused it of not being run in a “fit and proper” way.

The company has also had a ban in York.

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".

Globally, Uber endured a tumultuous 2017 after a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying at the company, leading to investor pressure.

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.

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.

Drivers went on strike on Tuesday, October 9 over their rights.

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.

Is 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.

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.


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