For a company that has made taxi hailing from a mobile app a household name, Uber sure seems to be heading in the wrong direction.
First, there were the allegations of sexual harassment at the helm of the company’s management; leading to the resignation of the old CEO, Travis Kalanic. Kalanic also got entangled with the politics in America after he joined the Trump Advisory Council, which led to criticism of the company.
Secondly, in a move to perhaps ‘sanitize’ the mess at the helm of the company’s administration, Uber poached Dara Khosrowshahi from Expedia to replace Kalanic. I say ‘sanitize’ because of the fact that Khosrowshahi, unlike his predecessor comes off as not pro-current US government administration. Indeed Khosrowshahi has openly opposed the U.S. government travel ban on six majorly Muslim countries and is also an immigrant from Iran.
Thirdly, but not the last, Uber made a generous donation of $125,000 to Black Girls Code, in a move seen as a PR-stunt to change public opinion about the male chauvinism at Uber. By donating to Black Girls Code, Uber would have been seen (in the eyes of the court of public opinion) as a company that supports not just women empowerment but also diversity at the workplace.
Too bad for the company, Kimberly Bryant (Black Girls Code founder) turned down the generous donation from Uber. Only to later get an even bigger donation from the tech community; which only goes to show the court of public opinion views Uber negatively.
It now emerges that the TfL has reached the conclusion that Uber is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator license in London. TfL says it reached the decision after being convinced that Uber endangers “public safety and security implications.”
Uber says it will appeal this decision, which shows the world that “far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies.”
The company further said: “Transport for London and the mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice.”
It is estimated that some 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 taxi drivers in London will feel the impact of Uber not operating in their city.
Tom Elvidge, the Uber general manager in London adds: “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.”
Elvidge says Uber operates in over 600 cities around the world, including some 40 cities and towns in the UK. Although for a while now, there have been speculations that the firm could be barred from operating in London.
Opponents of the company say it causes gridlock on the roads and does not do enough to regulate its drivers. There are also claims that Uber leads to a lot of traffic congestion in the city, fails to report incidences of sexual assaults, and is not doing a good-enough-vetting job of its drivers.
The company has also been blamed for a rise in collisions, and the unions too are criticizing it for poor working conditions for its drivers.
In a statement, the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security. Any operator of private hire services in London needs to play by the rules.”
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