Uber’s chief executive has apologised for the taxi app’s mistakes in London and promised to change as the company fights a decision by the city not to renew its licence.
The US company is battling to keep operating after Transport for London decided not to renew its licence to operate. Uber’s London licence expires on 30 September.
TfL said Uber was not a “fit and proper” private car-hire operator and cited four areas of concern, including its approach to reporting criminal offences and carrying out background checks on drivers.
Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in an open letter: “While Uber has revolutionised the way people move in cities around the world, it’s equally true that we’ve got things wrong along the way. On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologise for the mistakes we’ve made.
“We will appeal [against] the decision on behalf of millions of Londoners, but we do so with the knowledge that we must also change.” Uber deserved to lose its licence – Londoners’ safety must come first
However, earlier on Monday, another Uber executive told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the company did not understand the concerns of London’s transport regulator.
Fred Jonessaid: “Sitting down with TfL representatives as soon as possible would be the most helpful thing to really understand their concerns, to work out what they are. It is just not clear to us what those concerns are.”
When asked why Uber does not report criminal offences directly to the police, rather than notifying TfL, which lengthens the process, Jones said: “We follow the rules.”
The BBC interviewer said the Uber driver involved stayed on the company’s books and went on to commit another, more serious, attack.
Jones defended Uber’s usual practice of notifying TfL of criminal offences. “As soon as we receive a serious complaint or we are alerted of it, we restrict the access to the app and immediately investigate and that would involve notifying TfL.”
He added that Uber had set up a working group. “This is absolutely something we will work on with the police. This is absolutely an area where we want to go further.”
Also speaking on Today, the mayor of London said Uber had brought “unfair pressure” on TfL, employing an “army” of PR experts and lawyers.
Sadiq Khan said Uber had made “aggressive” threats about taking TfL to court, while at the same time briefing journalists that the company wanted to make a deal.
“I want companies that abide by the rules, I want companies that innovate, harbour new technologies, I want disruptive technology coming to London but you’ve got to play by the rule,” he said.
Khan stressed the decision over Uber’s licence had been taken by experts at TfL and should not be subject to political interference, when asked whether he would have talks with the company.