London keeps Uber on short license, scrutinises firm

A car with an Uber logo on it (Photo by Reuters)

London transport authorities on Tuesday gave Uber two months to continue operating in the city rather than the full five-year license the ride-hailing company had sought.

London is keeping Uber on a tight leash, with shorter-than-usual licenses, as officials review how the company operates following concerns about aggressive corporate tactics and passenger safety.

Transport for London issued the two-month license as the US company's existing 15-month one was set to expire at midnight Wednesday.

TFL first revoked Uber London Ltd.'s license in 2017, but a court later granted the company a 15-month license.

Authorities objected, among other things, to what they said was Uber's failure to report serious criminal offenses and allegations that the company used technology to evade law enforcement officials.

TFL said its approach was producing results and "has led to the app-based firm improving its culture and governance."

Uber received the two-month license "to allow for scrutiny of additional information that we are requesting ahead of consideration of any potential further licensing application," TFL said in a statement .

The two-month license comes with the same stricter conditions as the 15-month permit, along with new requirements that TFL said would ensure passenger safety, although it did not provide more details.

Uber said it will "work closely with TFL" and provide any extra information it asks for.

"TFL's recognition of our improved culture and governance reflects the progress we have made in London," said Jamie Heywood, Uber's regional general manager for Northern and Eastern Europe.

San Francisco-based Uber has expanded rapidly around the world by providing an alternative to traditional taxis with a smartphone app linking people to drivers of private cars.

That's drawn protests from companies that say Uber drivers don't have to comply with the same licensing standards as London's storied black cab drivers, giving it an unfair advantage and placing the public at risk.

The company says it has changed since CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took over. He tried to shift the company away from its combative stance with municipal officials soon after London pulled its license. 

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