A record-breaking number of signatures against the controversial move to ban Uber form operating in London makes it the fastest growing petition in the UK this year.
‘Save Your Uber in London‘ was started by the taxi-hailing company on the Change.org website after Friday’s announcement by TfL that it would not renew its licence when it ends on 30 September.
At the time of publication, nearly 750,000 people had signed the petition, with a goal to reach 1 million before it’s is handed over to London Mayor Sadiq Khan.
Khan has already responded to the Change petition, posting on the campaign page that Uber has let down its customers and drivers. “As Mayor of London I welcome innovative new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service – but providing an innovative service is not an excuse for not following the rules,” he wrote.
“I have every sympathy with Uber drivers and customers affected by this decision but their anger really should be directed at Uber. They have let down their drivers and customers by failing, in the view of TfL, to act as a fit and proper operator.
“I suspect it will take some time before this situation with Uber fully plays out.
“In the meantime, I will continue my work to help support innovative businesses in London and to create a vibrant and safe taxi and private hire market.”
Kajal Odedra, UK director at Change.org said: “The speed with which this grew shows how powerful online campaigning can be.
“In just 24 hours we’ve seen hundreds of thousands of people start and sign petitions on either side of the Uber/TfL debate.
Uber’s current license to operate won’t expire until the end of the month, and the company can still operate until all appeals to TfL’s decision have been exhausted.
Uber’s open letter
Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in an open letter: “While Uber has revolutionised the way people move in cities around the world, it’s equally 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.
“We will appeal [against] the decision on behalf of millions of Londoners, but we do so with the knowledge that we must also change.”
Khosrowshahi appears to suggest Uber is adopting a more emollient tone than under predecessor, Travis Kalanick.
However, earlier on Monday, another Uber executive told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the company did not understand the concerns of London’s transport regulator.
Fred Jonessaid: “Sitting down with TfL representatives as soon as possible would be the most helpful thing to really understand their concerns, to work out what they are. It is just not clear to us what those concerns are.”
When asked why Uber does not report criminal offences directly to the police, rather than notifying TfL, which lengthens the process, Jones said: “We follow the rules.”
He admitted in relation to one specific incident: “We hold our hands up, we made a mistake. In that incident we just didn’t realise when that passenger wrote in how serious it was… We apologise to everyone involved.”
The BBC interviewer said the Uber driver involved stayed on the company’s books and went on to commit another, more serious, attack.
Jones defended Uber’s usual practice of notifying TfL of criminal offences. “As soon as we receive a serious complaint or we are alerted of it, we restrict the access to the app and immediately investigate and that would involve notifying TfL.”
He added that Uber had set up a working group. “This is absolutely something we will work on with the police. This is absolutely an area where we want to go further.”