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Uber loses London licence days after announcing Clean Air Plan

Sat 23 September 2017 | Back to news list

Uber has been stripped of its licence to operate in London following a decision by Transport for London which said that the company has demonstrated 'a lack of corporate responsibility' in relation to issues around public safety and security. TfL's decision came only days after Uber had announced a Clean Air Plan which included a range of measures to cut polluting emissions from Uber's vehicle fleet in the capital.

Uber’s current licence expires on 30 September but the company says it plans to challenge the TfL ruling. Uber is expected to continue to operate in London – where it has 3.5 million users – until it has exhausted the appeals process, which could take months.

TfL's decision criticised Uber for aspects of its approach to ensuring passenger safety and its failure to share all relevant information with regulatory authorities.

Several days before TfL's decision, Uber had announced a 'Clean Air Plan' which included a range of proposals to reduce emissions from the vehicles using its app in London.

As part of the plan, it said:

Vehicles using Uber in London will be 100% hybrid or fully electric on uberX by the end of 2019 with no diesel vehicles on the app. (Uber says that more than half the miles on uberX journeys in London are already made in hybrid or fully electric cars.) 

The company's aim is to reach the same standard (100% hybrid or fully electric vehicles on uberX with no diesels on the app) across the rest of the UK in 2022. (Uber operates in more than 40 towns and cities across the UK.)

Uber's goal is for every vehicle using the app in London to be electric in 2025. Uber’s first electric vehicle programme launched in the capital last September.

Uber is also launching a diesel scrappage scheme aimed at removing 1,000 of the most polluting cars from London’s roads. (The first 1,000 people in London to scrap a pre-Euro 4 diesel vehicle and provide an official scrappage certificate will receive up to £1,500 of credit to spend on Uber or uberPOOL rides.)

In order to achieve these goals Uber also announced plans to create a dedicated Clean Air Fund to allow licensed drivers using the app across the UK to access up to £5,000 towards the cost of upgrading their car to a hybrid or fully electric vehicle.

Uber said it would kick-start the fund next month with a £2m investment and that 35p will be added to every ride taken through the app in London - to be donated to the dedicated and ring-fenced fund.

The company also announced that a network of Uber-branded rapid chargers will be installed in central London in the coming weeks which will initially be dedicated for use by drivers of electric vehicles who use the Uber app. Earlier in the year Uber had announced plans to invest in fast-charging in London after a report found that charging facilities are holding back EV uptake. (See LowCVP news story.)

In response to TfL's decision on the Uber licence the New Economics Foundation called for the formation of a mutually-owned, publicly regulated alternative to be set up in London. NEF said that 'Khan's Cars', through mutual ownership, could allow the benefits of new technology to be shared between citizens, users and drivers. (More information here.)

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