By Costas Pitas
LONDON (Reuters) - Taxi app Uber told a London court on Tuesday it had addressed concerns over safety as it fights to win back its operating licence in one of its most important markets, the latest stage of a long-running battle with the regulator. Transport for London (TfL) refused to grant the Silicon Valley-based company a new licence in 2019 due to what it called a "pattern of failures" on safety and security.
Uber, which was also denied a licence by TfL in 2017 before a judge restored it on a probationary basis, says it has assuaged worries by improving insurance document verification systems and rolling out real-time identification.
“The energy and responsiveness which (Uber)...has demonstrated in seeking to meet TfL’s concerns reflect a deep-rooted commitment to safety and provide further and strong evidence of fitness and propriety,” it said in a document submitted to court.TfL said in November 2019 that unauthorised drivers were able to upload their photos to other Uber accounts, resulting in at least 14,000 trips where drivers other than those advertised picked up passengers.
Deputy Senior District Judge Tan Ikram is presiding over the hearings at Westminster Magistrates' Court from Tuesday until Thursday.
Uber's 45,000 drivers in London are still able to operate until the appeals process is exhausted, which could go on for several more months or years depending on when a decision is made and any further legal action.
The Silicon Valley company has run into regulatory barriers and a backlash in other countries, forcing it to withdraw from some markets.
In London, traditional black cab drivers who see Uber as a threat to their livelihoods have blocked streets in protest. Their trade body, the Licensed Taxi Drivers' Association, is also part of the court case.
(Reporting by Costas Pitas; editing by Estelle Shirbon and Michael Holden)