The company pledges to make improvements as it fights a decision by the city not to renew its licence. London Mayor Sadiq Khan says Uber is welcome in London if it plays by the rules.
Uber called for urgent talks with London’s transport regulator and pledged to make improvements in the way it reports serious incidents in a bid to retain its license on Monday.
Transport for London (TfL) deemed the ride-sharing service unfit on Friday, citing the firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers. The regulator decided not to renew Uber's licence to operate in the British capital, which will end this week. The ban prompted an uproar with thousands of signatures petitioning TfL against the decision.
"It's ... true that we've got things wrong along the way. On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologise for the mistakes we've made," CEO Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in an open letter to Londoners.
"We will appeal the decision on behalf of millions of Londoners, but we do so with the knowledge that we must also change," he said.
London’s mayor asked the city’s transport regulator to be available to meet Uber’s boss after Khosrowshahi pledged to make changes to overturn a decision to strip it of its licence.
“I welcome the apology from Dara Khosrowshahi ... Obviously I am pleased that he has acknowledged the issues that Uber faces in London,” Mayor Sadiq Khan said in an emailed statement.
“Even though there is a legal process in place, I have asked TfL to make themselves available to meet with him,” he said.
London police complained earlier this year that Uber, which is backed by Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, was either not disclosing, or taking too long to report, serious crimes including sexual assaults and that this put the public at risk.
Uber's UK head of cities, Fred Jones, said the firm was working with the police to work out how it can better report incidents. He also said TfL had not been clear about its concerns.
“We’re working with the police to figure out how we can do this in a better way that’s helpful to them,” Fred Jones told BBC radio.
But he also called for talks with TfL to discuss the loss of the firm’s license, which formally ends this week. The firm can continue to operate until the appeals process is exhausted, which is likely to take several months.
“It’s just not clear for us what their concerns might be,” said Jones.
“Once we understand them we can work with them to figure out what is it that they would like us to do and how can we move forward, and I think that’s the important next step,” he said.
TfL declined to comment on Monday.
Uber has licensing problems elsewhere
Earlier this year, Italy briefly blocked Uber from operating, citing unfair competition, but lifted the prohibition a week later. In Taiwan, it resumed its services in April after talks with the island's authorities, ending a two-month suspension.
A petition calling on London to overturn its decision not to renew Uber's licence had gathered more than 750,000 signatures at noon on Monday.
Khan, a Labour politician who has criticised the firm in the past, backed TfL’s decision and attacked the Silicon Valley app’s response.
“You can’t have it both ways: on the one hand acting in an aggressive manner for all sorts of things but on the other hand brief to journalists that they want to do a deal with TfL,” he told BBC radio.
“If you play by the rules, you’re welcome in London, if you don‘t, don’t be surprised if TfL takes action against you.”