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Petition to save Uber London service hits 400,000 signatures

Strong online support for the ride-sharing firm as chief executive vows to show that it is a ‘great company meaningfully contributing to society’

23 September 2017, 9:49am
Uber has 40,000 drivers in London
Uber has 40,000 drivers in London
Hundreds of thousands of people have signed a petition calling for Transport for London to reverse its decision to strip Uber’s licence in the English capital.

The campaign Save Your Uber in London was set up by the ride-sharing firm on the Change.org website after it was announced on Friday that it would not have its licence renewed when it expires on 30 September.

The petition had gained more than 426,000 signatures by Saturday morning as the company tweeted users to sign up.

Uber, which has 40,000 drivers in London and claims that 3.5 million people use the service, also plans to appeal against the decision by TfL, which said the US company’s approach and conduct was “not fit and proper” to hold a private vehicle hire licence.

The decision was backed by London mayor Sadiq Khan and the capital’s thousands of black cab drivers.

However, Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi stepped up Uber’s response when he appealed on Twitter to Londoners to “work with us” to resolve the issue.

Khosrowshahi, who was brought in to steer the company after a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying, wrote: “Dear London: we r far from perfect but we have 40k licensed drivers and 3.5mm Londoners depending on us. Pls work w/us to make things right.”

He also wrote to Uber staff on Friday saying he was “disappointed” by TfL’s decision and said it would have profound consequences for its drivers and users.

But he admitted that the loss of its licence was the result of the company’s “bad reputation”.

“While the impulse may be to say that this is unfair, one of the lessons I’ve learned over time is that change comes from self-reflection. So it’s worth examining how we got here,” the email to staff said.

“The truth is that there is a high cost to a bad reputation. Irrespective of whether we did everything that is being said about us in London today (and to be clear, I don’t think we did), it really matters what people think of us, especially in a global business like ours, where actions in one part of the world can have serious consequences in another.”

TfL said Uber could operate until the appeals process was exhausted, which could take months.

“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,” TfL said.

Specifically, TfL cited Uber’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences, background checks on drivers and software called Greyball that could be used to block regulators from gaining full access to the app.

London’s traditional black cab drivers have attacked Uber, saying it has undercut safety rules and threatened their livelihoods. Uber has been criticised by unions and MPs too and been embroiled in legal battles over workers’ rights.