Uber Technologies Inc. is launching a range of measures, including 24-hour telephone support hotlines and better contact with local police, in a bid to appease London’s regulator ahead of a court battle over its license to operate in the city.
The ride-hailing company will now report “serious incidents” that occur during a passenger’s journey to the police, rather than expecting users to make contact. It will also share license details of drivers with riders, and allow those drivers to post their live location to family or friends.
The measures come a day after Transport for London — the city’s transport authority — proposed new rules for private hire taxi companies, such as requiring them to limit working hours for their drivers, share data on travel patterns, and ensure the provision of wheelchair-accessible vehicles.
Before TfL enacts any of these proposals, they will be subject to further consultation with lawmakers and other stakeholders. Uber last month rolled out a feature on its app stopping drivers in the city working for more than a 10-hour stretch — a measure it extended to apply to all U.S. drivers earlier this week.
This year is set to be a crunch time for Uber in London, one of its most successful cities and its biggest market outside of the U.S. Last year TfL banned the company from operating in the capital because of safety concerns, but allowed it to continue operating during its appeal.
The five-day hearing is set to begin on June 25. Uber is hoping that it can settle its issues with TfL outside of court, a person familiar with the matter said. The company has been keen to show it’s willing to do what it takes to win back its license, with Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi jumping on a plane to London following news of the ban to begin patching up relations with transport regulators.
Sides are already being drawn for the upcoming hearing. Uber lost a bid in December to prevent two unions representing taxi drivers from taking part in the appeal.
In a speech last month at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May said Uber has gotten things wrong but should not be shut down, suggesting that U.K. employment law might have to change to accommodate the kinds of “gig economy” careers that companies like Uber have made possible.
©2018 Bloomberg L.P.