UPDATE 1-Uber, reviving old tactic, is backed by more than 500,000 in London row

UPDATE 1-Uber, reviving old tactic, is backed by more than 500,000 in London row
From Reuters - September 23, 2017

SAN FRANCISCO/LONDON (Reuters) - Half a million people have signed an online petition in under 24 hours backing Ubers bid to stay on the roads of London, showing the company is turning to its tried-and-tested tactic of askingcustomers for help when it locks horns with regulators.

Londons transport authorities stunned the powerful U.S. start-up on Friday when they deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service for safety reasons and stripped it of its license from Sept. 30, although it can operate while it appeals.

The regulator cited failures to report serious criminal offences, conduct sufficient background checks on drivers and other safety issues, threatening the U.S. firms presence in one of the worlds wealthiest cities.

Uber immediately urged users in London to sign a petition that said the city authorities had caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice.

By 1400 GMT on Saturday, nearly 540,000 people had signed although it was not clear how many of them were in London.

Uber counted 3.5 million active users in London in the past three months. Even if many tourists are probably included in the total, the figure represents a potential political force of commuters who face long journeys between their home and offices and who use Uber as a cheaper alternative to other taxi firms.

Turning to users for help is one of the first steps in Ubers playbook. In Jakarta, Budapest, Toronto and Portland it asked riders to sign petitions and built online tools to contact lawmakers to show their support.

Regulators have at least partly relented in Portland, Toronto and Jakarta, but Budapest remains a work in progress.

Uber now faces a showdown with Londons Mayor Sadiq Khan, who this month said he wouldnt let his teenage daughters use cabs like Uber on their own over fears for their safety.

Khan, a leading figure in Britains opposition Labour Party, said on Saturday he had sympathy with Uber drivers and customers.

But their anger really should be directed at Uber, Khan said in a statement. They have let down their drivers and customers by failing, in the view of TfL, to act as a fit and proper operator.

But he also suggested that Uber might eventually be allowed to continue operating in London.

I want to be absolutely clear that there is a place in London for all private hire companies that play by the rules, Khan said. I suspect it will take some time before this situation with Uber fully plays out.

As mayor, Khan is chairman of Transport for London, the regulator which stripped Uber of its license.

Londons decision is the first major challenge for new Uber Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over from co-founder and ex-CEO Travis Kalanick. He was forced out after internal and external investigations into sexual harassment complaints, the thwarting of government inquiries and potential bribery.


So far, Khosrowshahi has adopted a softer tone to the crisis in London than his predecessor did in similar situations.

Dear London: we (are) far from perfect Khosrowshahi tweeted on Friday. But he noted that 40,000 drivers and millions of riders were dependent on the service. Please work with us to make things right.

Khosrowshahi appeared to be following earlier game plans, said Bradley Tusk, an Uber investor who advised on policy in New York City for the company.



Continue reading at Reuters »