Massive backlash begins over bombshell decision to BAN Uber from London putting 40,000 drivers out of work as 250,000 sign protest petition in just seven hours .
Transport for London (TfL) sensationally announced the firm would be barred from working in the city from next month due to its failure to report crimes carried out by its drivers.
The Silicon Valley firm – which boasts more than 5billion passengers in over 630 cities worldwide – fears the decision by regulators in London may now encourage authorities in other countries to launch their own crackdowns.
Passengers are outraged by the bombshell announcement, which they say will leave them unable to afford late-night lifts home and will put thousands of drivers out of work.
Ahead of a planned appeal, which will see the dispute dragged into court, more than 250,000 Londoners have signed a petition calling for the decision to be reversed.
But critics of Uber insist it has failed to properly vet its drivers and is an example of the so-called ‘gig economy’ that gives workers no employment rights.
Worried Uber drivers and angry passengers today joined a growing chorus of criticism – with delighted cabbies rejoicing at the potential downfall of their fiercest competitor.
Father-of-three Bangalie, who has been driving for the company for almost a year, fears he could be forced to claim benefits if Uber’s appeal is not successful.
He said: ‘My family are worried about the future of my job, even if I go on benefits I will not get the same amount of money.
‘I have bills and rent to pay and mouths to feed, if I cannot do that there is going to be a problem. I could be signing up for job seekers in less than two weeks time.’
Passenger Lucy Williams, 30, from London, said: ‘It’s terrible, I get Ubers like three times a week and they’ve saved me a lot of money from black cabs.’
But black cab driver Kenneth Stein, 54, said: ‘I have nothing against Uber drivers but we as black cab drivers are regulated to the hilt while they have next to no regulation.’
Uber said in a statement that the decision would ‘show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies’. The firm’s current licence expires on September 30.
As part of their fightback, they are emailing all of their members individually to urge them to sign the petition.
At 4pm this afternoon, the number of signatures was rising at a rate of 2,000-a-minute.
But the firm has faced a barrage of criticism in recent years over the safety of customers, working rights for drivers and opposition from black cab drivers.
TfL concluded that the minicab app is ‘not fit and proper’ to operate in the capital due to concerns which have ‘public safety and security implications’.
Transport for London said: ‘TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications.’
Mayor of Sadiq Khan, who was not involved in the decision but supports it, said: ‘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.’
Confirming Uber would appeal against the decision in court, Tom Elvidge, the firm’s general manager in London, said: ‘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.
‘If this decision stands, it will put more than 40,000 licensed drivers out of work and deprive Londoners of a convenient and affordable form of transport.
‘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. ‘
He added: ‘Uber operates in more than 600 cities around the world, including more than 40 towns and cities here in the UK. This ban would show the world that, far from being open, London is closed to innovative companies who bring choice to consumers.’
The firm’s complaints were backed by London First, which campaigns for business in the capital.
The group’s David Leam said: ‘This will be seen as a Luddite decision by millions of Londoners and international visitors who use Uber, and will also hit London’s reputation as a global tech hub. London needs to be open to new ideas, businesses and services.’
But Labour MP Wes Streeting, chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Taxis, welcomed the decision, which he said would ‘draw a line in the sand’.
The Ilford North MP added: ‘Uber has not shown itself to be a fit and proper operator.
‘It stands accused by the police of failing to properly handle serious allegations of rape and sexual assault of passengers.
‘It had to be dragged through the courts to recognise its responsibility to provide even the most basic rights and protections to Uber drivers.’
The number of private hire drivers in London has almost doubled to more than 116,000 from 65,000 in 2013/14.
Uber driver James Farrar said: ‘This is a devastating blow for 30,000 Londoners who now face losing their job and being saddled with unmanageable vehicle-related debt.
‘To strip Uber of its licence after five years of laissez-faire regulation is a testament to a systemic failure at TfL.
‘Rather than banish Uber, TfL should have strengthened its regulatory oversight, curbed runaway licensing and protected the worker rights of drivers.’
The GMB union handed in a petition with 100,000 signatures on Monday to TfL, calling on Uber to improve workers’ rights or ‘get out of London’ ahead of the licence decision.
She added: ‘It’s back to minicabs now and minicabs are the worst, you’ve no idea who they are or where they are or anything and they don’t care about their ratings. Uber cab drivers care about their rating.’
Pablo Galleguillos, 26, from Chile, added: ‘I think it’s really, really bad because you have to have a choice to use a taxi or use an Uber.
‘I think everyone is using the phone, everyone is using the phone. I think it’s really bad news.
‘I’ve used both, normal taxis and Uber and Uber is much cheaper and they tell you the price instantly.’
Michael Dedza, 25, a swimming instructor from New York, USA, said: ‘I have found Uber very safe. I once lost my phone in an Uber before and you know exactly what cab it was and I contacted them and they just dropped it off the next day.
‘You know the driver’s name and you know they are licensed because they have to be, I’m a really big fan and I think London would be missing out if Uber lost their licence.’