Uber’s license expires at midnight on Monday.
The company announced it will appeal the decision — and it has successfully done that in London once before. It can continue to operate until a final decision is made.
Dara Khosrowshahi, Uber’s chief executive, said even though the company should be “held to a high bar,” the decision was “just wrong.” After the decision was announced, Uber’s stock dropped about 1.6 percent in regular trading.
The decision by London is the latest setback for Uber, which has clashed with transport bodies and traditional taxi-driver markets around the world.
Uber has faced regulatory scrutiny in markets around the U.S. and the world for relying on an approach that prioritized entering cities and amassing users there — and letting politicians sort out how to respond later. In U.S. cities from Portland to New York, Uber arrived without early approval and faced uphill regulatory battles to gain permission to operate.
In 2016, California regulators ordered Uber to shut down its self-driving car program for a lack of permitting, after the company acknowledged the program might run afoul of regulators but launched it anyway. The state decried the program as “illegal,” and Uber was forced to pull its autonomous vehicles for a time.
And Uber has been fiercely resistant to regulations that could impose costly requirements on the service. Most notably, Uber pulled out of Austin, Texas in 2016 over a city requirement that would have mandated fingerprint-based background checks for drivers, before returning in 2017 when the state overruled the requirement.
Meanwhile, Uber has faced bans or suspensions at one time or another over similar issues around the world in Brazil, Italy, Denmark, Hungary and Bulgaria.
London is one of the company’s largest European markets, serving 3.5 million users and employing 45,000 drivers. The ride-hailing app is hugely popular with users. It is unpopular with competitors, who operate London’s iconic boxy black cabs.
London transport authorities also cited safety concerns in September 2017, when they rejected the company’s bid to renew its operating license. Uber successfully appealed that decision and was granted an extension.
On Monday, the corporation tweeted: “We have fundamentally changed our business over the last 2 years, setting the standard for safety in the industry.”
London transport said Uber had made a number of improvements, but not enough. One key concern was a change to Uber’s system that “allowed unauthorised drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts.” London authorities said this allowed at least 14,000 trips where passengers were picked up by someone other than the booked driver.
The transport body also said that some drivers that had been dismissed or suspended were able to open new Uber accounts, potentially “compromising passenger safety and security.”
Uber’s rivals wasted little time in applauding the move on Monday.
The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association, a trade body for London’s black cab industry, said it was “the right and only decision to keep Londoners safe.”
Bolt, an Estonian ride-hailing company that has thousands of London drivers on its books, said in a statement that “we continue to pay the utmost attention to the credentials of drivers we permit to use our platform.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who will face a mayoral election contest next year, said “I know this decision may be unpopular with Uber users but their safety is the paramount concern.”