TfL reportedly considers ban for ride-hailing app

A man holds up a smartphone with the Uber app visible on screen, as taxis queue in the background on June 4, 2019.

Olly Curtis | Future via Getty Images

Uber is awaiting a crucial decision from London’s transport regulator on whether to grant the ride-hailing giant another license to operate in the U.K. capital.

The company’s permit expires Monday at 11:59 p.m. London time, and according to Transport for London (TfL) a decision is yet to be reached.

“TfL is considering Uber’s application and no decision has been made,” a spokesperson for the watchdog told CNBC by email on Monday.

Over the weekend, Sky News reported that TfL was “actively considering” a ban for the San Francisco-based firm, making its fate in the city uncertain. The outlet said TfL had raised fresh concerns about Uber’s ability to identify its drivers. Earlier this month, the company told a group of reporters in London that it was optimistic about the looming decision.

Meanwhile, a reporter for London-based radio station LBC said on Twitter that the company would not be granted an operator’s license from TfL, citing “multiple sources.”

The stakes are high for Uber, which counts London as its largest European market and one of its key revenue drivers internationally. The firm is facing increased competition in the city, with new entrants like Estonia’s Bolt and France’s Kapten looking to lure customers away from the company.

TfL had first suspended Uber’s license back in 2017, flagging concerns with the company’s approach to safety. Following that initial move, Uber has twice been granted a temporary license to continue operating in the city — the first, a 15-month reprieve issued by a judge last year, and the second, a two-month permit granted by TfL in September.

Uber recently introduced some new features in Britain, in an apparent attempt to assuage any ongoing concerns with regard to safety. New tools introduced by the firm include a button to report claims of discrimination and a “RideCheck” feature that sends out push notifications when GPS data indicates a car crash may have occurred.

But the company’s fate in London may yet be the least of its troubles in the U.K. It’s also fighting a court case led by two drivers who believe they and others should be treated as workers for the firm. The company has appealed a Court of Appeal ruling in favor of the drivers, and the case is expected to go to the Supreme Court halfway through 2020.