Lyft Ponders Entering London As Uber Seeks Its License Back

September 25, 2017 - Written By Dominik Bosnjak

Lyft is pondering the decision of expanding its presence to countries other than the United States by launching its ride-hailing service in London, The Telegraph reported on Sunday, noting how the company may be seeking to capitalize on the fact that its rival Uber essentially got kicked out of the UK capital by having its operating license renewal request denied last week. Lyft held talks with both Transport for London and City Hall officials over the last year, the British media discovered under the Freedom of Information act, noting how the San Francisco, California-based startup has yet to formally disclose its interest in London to the general public.

Lyft’s talks with London administrators began in December and were headed by the company’s Chief Strategy Officer Raj Kapoor and global strategy chief Mike Masserman. Apart from three personal meetings with London administrators, Lyft also held two phone calls with various local officials in the last 12 months. It’s currently unclear whether Lyft would have an easier time of launching a UK operation than Uber seeing how the majority of the latter’s opponents were local taxi unions and politicians which would likely be against any new ride-hailing service in the city. While Lyft may be exploring the idea of becoming a company with a multinational presence, Uber is seemingly reassessing its position and looking to repair its damaged relations with the London administration. The company is currently in the process of appealing the Transport for London’s decision and will be allowed to continue operating in the city until all of its legal remedies to do so are exhausted or it successfully obtains a new license.

Uber London General Manager Tom Elvidge was recently quoted as saying that the firm is seeking to meet with competent officials and remedy the situation. The tech giant was officially denied its license renewal request after the government agency accused it of corporate irresponsibility, quoting various working conditions and passenger safety concerns. Uber entered London in 2012 and paid only 3,000 pounds for a five-year license but a renewal would set it back almost $4 million in accordance with the Transport for London’s new private hire operator licensing system.