A model holds up a phone showing the Uber app, in London. Picture: REUTERS
A model holds up a phone showing the Uber app, in London. Picture: REUTERS

London — Uber faces a big jump in the fee it pays to operate in London to £2.9m if the ride-hailing company is granted a new licence by the city’s transport authority.

Transport for London (TfL) said on Monday that companies with more than 10,000 vehicles would pay £2.9m for a licence under a multi-tiered system coming into force this week.

In 2012, Uber paid less than £3,000 for a five-year licence to operate in London, which was extended in May by four months partly because TfL needed to finalise its new fees system.

Uber has about 40,000 drivers in London. A decision on Uber’s licence is due by the end of September. TfL’s general manager of taxi and private hire, Helen Chapman, said: "There has been a huge growth in the industry in recent years and it is only fair that the licence fee reflects the costs of regulation and enforcement.

"The changes to fees will help us fund additional compliance officers who do a crucial job cracking down on illegal and dangerous activity," she said.

Uber declined to comment on the licence fees on Monday.

The number of private-hire drivers in London has almost doubled to more than 116,000 from 65,000 in 2013-14, prompting TfL’s decision to introduce higher fees for the bigger operators.

Uber has faced protests from drivers of London’s traditional black cabs and criticism over working conditions.

Several British parliamentarians wrote a letter last week calling for Uber’s licence not to be renewed, accusing it of not being a "fit and proper operator" and criticising its record on safety and working rights.

The GMB union handed a petition with 100,000 signatures to TfL on Monday, calling on Uber to improve workers’ rights or "get out of London".

An Uber spokesman said the company was taking steps to improve security for its drivers and they were paid more than the minimum wage, apart from enjoying the flexibility offered by the app.

Reuters

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