Uber boss to meet London transport chief in bid to keep license

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Uber’s new global boss Dara Khosrowshahi will meet London’s transport regulator on Tuesday in the taxi hailing app’s bid to keep its license in one of its most important foreign markets.

Transport for London (TfL), which runs and regulates the capital’s transport system, shocked Uber last month by deeming it unfit to run a taxi service and refusing to renew its license.

TfL cited the firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers.

Reuters reported on Monday that Uber’s top boss in Britain, Jo Bertram, would be quitting in the next few weeks to take up an undisclosed new role outside the company.

Uber’s British management has been criticised by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is also chairman of TfL.

Khan said the firm needed to spend less time hiring “an army of PR experts and an army of lawyers” and instead address issues raised by TfL.

Khan, a center-left politician from Britain’s opposition Labour Party, approved Tuesday’s meeting between Khosrowshahi and TfL Commissioner Mike Brown, who is in charge of TfL’s day-to-day operations.

Uber’s license expired on Sept. 30 but its roughly 40,000 drivers are still be able to take passengers until an appeals process is exhausted, which could take several months.

Khosrowshahi was appointed Uber chief executive in August, replacing co-founder and former boss Travis Kalanick and has promised change at the $70-billion dollar firm.

He is battling to steer a new course for the app, which has faced regulatory crackdowns, court cases, bans and protests around the world, as well as several boardroom controversies.

In a bid to repair relations with London, Khosrowshahi struck a more conciliatory tone in an open letter to Londoners last week, marking a new approach for a firm which has deployed a combative style to break into closed markets around the world.

“It’s ... true that we’ve got things wrong along the way. On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologize for the mistakes we’ve made,” he wrote in the open letter.

Uber’s fate in London will be decided by a judge who will rule on the appeal after it is submitted by Oct. 13.

Uber’s competitors are already trying to take its business. London’s second-biggest private hire firm Addison Lee said on Friday it was planning to increase its driver numbers in London by up to a quarter.

A source familiar with the matter told Reuters the announcement was designed to tap into the growing uncertainty among Uber drivers over their futures.

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