London Mayor Sadiq Khan keeps pushing the mantra ‘London is Open’ – but will Uber ban close the city off?
Uber has sensationally been stripped of it’s London operating license, with TfL ruling that the ride-hailing app company will be barred from operating within the M25.
The shock ruling will potentially put 40,000 drivers out of a job, with many calling out the decision at being at odds with the city’s ‘London is open’ mantra employed by the capital’s mayor Sadiq Khan.
Post-Brexit, the London mayor has been championing the city as one of the leading tech hubs of the world, vocally positioning the city ahead of every other European competitor in terms of tech. Back in July, Khan reeled off a who’s who of big tech names in support of London’s position as a tech leader:
“London is open, it is not simply a concept or a strapline, it is a state of mind. It is evidenced by the last twelve months – in the last twelve months we have had Apple, a big investment in London, Google, another big investment in London, Facebook, Snapchat, and I could go on.”
However, although the city is open for the likes of Google and Apple, the door has seemingly been slammed shut in the face of Uber. However, the London Mayor has been quick to comment on the Uber ban, throwing his full support behind the decision.
“I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service,” said Khan.
“However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect – particularly when it comes to the safety of customers. Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.
“I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.
“Any operator of private hire services in London needs to play by the rules,” the London mayor concluded.
If Uber is unsuccessful in its appeal, the UK capital will be one of the most high profile cities to not allow Uber on its roads; 600 cities around the world currently operate Uber, a fact picked upon by Uber GM Tom Elvidge.
“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 in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice.
“Uber operates in more than 600 cities around the world, including more than 40 towns and cities here in the UK. The ban would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers.”
The ruling seems a step back for a city trying to position itself as an innovator and tech leader – that said, Uber has 21 days to appeal, a step which Uber is already planning in order to, as Elvidge said, “defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app.”