Uber apologizes after London ban, admits ‘we got things wrong’

London mayor Sadiq Khan says he welcomes apology by CEO of app-based ride hailing car service

Uber’s chief executive has apologized for the taxi app’s mistakes in London and promised to change as the company fights a decision by the city not to renew its licence.

The San Fransisco based Company is battling to keep operating after Transport for London decided not to renew its licence to operate. Uber’s London licence expires on 30 September.

TfL said Uber was not a “fit and proper” private car-hire operator and cited four areas of concern, including its approach to reporting criminal offences and carrying out background checks on drivers.

Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in an open letter: “While Uber has revolutionized the way people move in cities around the world, it’s equally true that we’ve got things wrong along the way. On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologize for the mistakes we’ve made.

“We will appeal [against] the decision on behalf of millions of Londoners, but we do so with the knowledge that we must also change.”

Sadiq Khan, the London mayor, said he welcomed Khosrowshahi’s apology. “Obviously I am pleased that he has acknowledged the issues that Uber faces in London,” Khan said. “Even though there is a legal process in place, I have asked TfL to make themselves available to meet with him.”

Khosrowshahi letter appears to suggest Uber is adopting a more emollient tone than under his predecessor, Travis Kalanick.

However, earlier on Monday, another Uber executive told BBC Radio 4’s Today program the company did not understand the concerns of London’s transport regulator.

Fred Jones said: “Sitting down with TfL representatives as soon as possible would be the most helpful thing to really understand their concerns, to work out what they are. It is just not clear to us what those concerns are.”

When asked why Uber does not report criminal offences directly to the police, rather than notifying TfL, which lengthens the process, Jones said: “We follow the rules.”

He admitted in relation to one specific incident: “We hold our hands up, we made a mistake. In that incident, we just didn’t realise when that passenger wrote in how serious it was… We apologize to everyone involved.”

The BBC interviewer said the Uber driver involved stayed on the company’s books and went on to commit another, more serious, attack.

Jones defended Uber’s usual practice of notifying TfL of criminal offences. “As soon as we receive a serious complaint or we are alerted to it, we restrict the access to the app and immediately investigate and that would involve notifying TfL.”

He added that Uber had set up a working group. “This is absolutely something we will work on with the police. This is absolutely an area where we want to go further.”

Also speaking on Today, Khan said Uber had brought “unfair pressure” on TfL, employing an “army” of PR experts and lawyers.

The mayor said: “I want companies that abide by the rules, I want companies that innovate, harbor new technologies, I want disruptive technology coming to London but you’ve got to play by the rules.”

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