Uber boss jets into capital for crunch talks with TfL over London licence

Uber boss Dara Khosrowshahi arrives in London next week for crunch talks over its operating licenceANTHONY WALLACE/AFP/Getty Images

The new boss of under-fire Uber will jet into London next week for crunch talks with the capital's transport commissioner, as the ride-hailing firm fights to retain its operating licence.

Dara Khosrowshahi will meet Transport for London (TfL) on Tuesday (3 October) as the company attempts to mend fences. The regulator ruled earlier this month it was not a "fit and proper" business to operate in one of its most important markets.

The new head of the US firm, who took over from controversial co-founder Travis Kalanick earlier this month, has vowed to change its tainted corporate culture.

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Khosrowshahi said in an open letter earlier this week: "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 the decision on behalf of millions of Londoners, but we do so with the knowledge that we must also change."

Uber's licence expires on 30 September, although the firm will continue to run cars during the appeal process, which could last a year.

Khosrowshahi's meeting with London transport boss Mike Brown comes after Prime Minister Theresa May last week called the decision "disproportionate".

May acknowledged there were "safety concerns for Uber to address" but said the decision backed by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan "damaged the lives" of millions of users.

She added: "At a stroke of a pen, what the mayor has done is risked 40,000 jobs and of course... damaged the lives of those 3.5 million Uber users. I think a blanket ban is disproportionate. What I think people want to see is choice."

Khan has also come under pressure from a petition signed by more than 822,000 Londoners demanding that TfL renew the company's ability to operate.

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TfL withdrew the firm's licence citing four areas of concern, including its approach to reporting criminal offences and carrying out background checks on drivers.

But TfL confirmed: "Following an approach from Uber, and at the mayor's request, London's Transport Commissioner will meet with Uber's global CEO in London next Tuesday."

London is Uber's largest European market, with 3.5m users and more than 40,000 drivers, and is counted among the firm's top 10 cities globally.

Khosrowshahi replaced the ousted Kalanick, who resigned in June, following a string of controversies including allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination and intellectual property theft.

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