After nearly nine months of halted operations, Transport for London (TfL) has now allowed Uber a 15-month probationary license to offer rides within London. The company had lost its license renewal back in September of last year, following concerns about its crime reporting policies and a lack of proper licensing for drivers. The ride-sharing organization took TfL to court over the matter and a ruling was finally reached this week. However, the reinstatement of Uber's operating license doesn't come without its own conditions and it will be monitored by TfL over the next fifteen months to ensure that it upholds its end of the bargain.
To begin with, the company has had to drop at least one of its hiring standards which required all drivers within the city to pass an English language test. Criminal offenses also need to be logged with TfL, rather than simply reported to the police. Meanwhile, all drivers must obtain and hold a 'private hire license' prior to taking on a job with the company. That license will also only be valid for driving within predetermined areas, similarly to how licensing works for taxi-drivers. Along those same lines, Uber drivers will now need to adhere to standards for working hours typically assigned to drivers within the region. In fact, drivers can reportedly only use the application at all when they are within their designated area. In effect, that means that drivers need to take a six-hour break in between driving sessions of up to ten hours. Those breaks need to be completely 'uninterrupted' by further work.
Although at least one taxi-driver who witnessed the public court proceedings was reportedly not happy with the outcome, the conditions to Uber's ability to operate aren't likely to only affect the company in London. The firm has faced plenty of scrutiny for its practices and, in particular, its treatment and classification of drivers in various regions of the world. That's despite its best efforts to put its drivers first and to introduce new perks to the job. Bearing that in mind, this ruling could act as a kind of precedent for courts in other areas where authorities are seeking to reign in the company's activities. So this court case and the resulting months-long probationary period may just be the beginnings of a wider pushback for Uber.