The cab app Uber will not be issued with an operating licence after its current one expires at the end of this month, Transport for London has announced.
Transport for London (TfL) said the firm is "not fit and proper" to operate in the capital due to concerns which have "public safety and security implications". These include its approach to reporting serious criminal offences and how it carries out background checks on its drivers.
Uber allows users to book cars using their smartphones, and is available in cities across the UK. Some 3.5 million passengers and 40,000 drivers use the Uber app in London.
See our 40 London MoneySaving Tips for a host of cheap ways to travel in the capital.
Get Our Free Money Tips Email!
'All companies in London must play by the rules'
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a statement: "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.
"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.
TfL said Uber can appeal against the decision within 21 days and can continue operating during this time.
Uber: 'We intend to immediately challenge this'
Tom Elvidge, general manager of Uber in London, said: "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.
"Drivers who use Uber are licensed by Transport for London and have been through the same enhanced DBS [Disclosure and Barring Service] background checks as black-cab drivers. Our pioneering technology has gone further to enhance safety with every trip tracked and recorded by GPS. We have always followed TfL rules on reporting serious incidents and have a dedicated team who work closely with the Metropolitan Police.
"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."
We've asked Uber if it will be issuing refunds for those with Uber gift cards who had been planning to spend them in London, and will update this story when we hear back.
What alternatives are there to Uber?
While it remains to be seen if Uber will successfully appeal against TfL's decision, if you're looking for an alternative app, here are some options:
- Addison Lee. A "premier" private hire and courier service, available in a number of cities across the UK, including London, Liverpool, Cardiff and Glasgow. You can book online or via its app.
- Gett. A black cab app, available in over 100 cities worldwide including six in the UK (London, Birmingham, Coventry, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Leeds).
- Green Tomato Cars. A London-only 'ethical taxi service', which says it aims to look after the environment and its customers. You can book via phone, app or online.
- Kabbee. A price comparison and booking service for minicabs in Greater London. You can book via phone, app or online.
- Mytaxi. Recently merged with taxi app Hailo to form what it calls "Europe's largest taxi app". It's available in over 50 European cities, including London.