Last year, Transport for London (TfL) refused to renew Uber’s operating license due to safety issues. More specifically, they weren’t exactly pleased with how Uber reported serious offenses and conducted driver background checks. Which showed a lack of corporate responsibility. But since then, Uber has been trying to win over TfL. One thing they’re doing is starting to impose limits on how long drivers can work without a break. I mean, that kind of only makes sense. We know that the human body can only go for so long without a break. And while I think it’s commendable to want to keep going, it’s not healthy. It’s also dangerous for a company to allow this. Especially one whose main purpose is to transport people around.
Uber, however, has announced some more changes in an attempt to get back in TfL’s good books. Uber’s General Manager in the UK – Tom Elvidge had this to say:
“After listening to feedback from drivers, riders, local regulators and the police we’re introducing a number of new features and changes to enhance driver and passenger safety. We’re determined to change the way we do business, so we’ll carry on listening and plan to make other improvements over the coming months.”
TfL’s big concern with Uber was around how they report serious incidents. Uber will now forward major complaints from passengers onto the police automatically. Drivers reports will be forwarded to the police with their consent. Previously, the driver themselves had to go to the police. But I wonder if that’s enough? If there’s a serious incident, shouldn’t that information just be sent to the police, regardless of consent? I’m not suggesting that you have to go to the police with everything, but if you’re involved in a situation don’t you think all the information should automatically go to the police?
In addition to that, passengers will receive more information on their drivers through the app. Their private hire license number and issuing authority will be added to the app next month. This is being introduced so users can easily contact the license issuer with any complaints, as well as Uber. Later this year, Uber will also be launching a 24/7 telephone support line for both drivers and users so they can actually speak to someone instead of raising complaints and queries through the app. The interesting part about this is that Uber has pushed back on this one. Their argument is that black cabs aren’t expected to have a centralized helpline, so why should they? They do make a good point, but the whole reason they’re in hot water, to begin with, is because of safety.
Uber is certainly trying to get back into the TfL good books with these initiatives. But it also demonstrates that both passenger and driver safety is a priority. While it appeals the revocation of its London license, Uber is still permitted to operate in the capital, and it’s anticipated that the legal process could take years. This does buy Uber some time to satisfy the requirements outside of the courtroom. At the moment, it appears to be working.