The Silicon Valley taxi app firm has appealed a decision by London's transport regulator to revoke its licence to operate.Photo: Reuters
LONDON - Uber’s new boss apologised to Londoners for the taxi app’s mistakes and pledged to make changes, as the Silicon Valley firm tries to overturn a decision to strip it of its licence in one of its major markets.

The British capital’s transport regulator on Friday deemed Uber unfit to run a taxi service and decided not to renew its licence to operate, which will end this week, citing the firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers.

Its 40 000 drivers, one third of the city’s number of private hire vehicles, will continue to take passengers until an appeals process is exhausted, which could take several months.

London police complained this year that Uber, which is backed by Goldman Sachs and BlackRock, was either not disclosing or taking too long to report serious crimes, including sexual assaults, and that this put the public at risk.

“It’s 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,” chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi wrote in an open letter to Londoners.

“We will appeal the decision on behalf of millions of Londoners, but we do so with the knowledge that we must also change,” he conceded.

The loss of the San Francisco-based start-up’s licence in one of the world’s wealthiest capitals comes after a tumultuous few months that led to former chief executive and co-founder Travis Kalanick being forced out.

'We made mistakes'

Khosrowshahi, who is less than a month into his new job, did not specify which mistakes Uber had made in London.

Uber’s UK head of cities, Fred Jones, said the firm was working with the police to work out how it can better report incidents. He also said Transport for London (TfL) had not been clear about its concerns.

“Once we understand them we can work with them to figure out what is it that they would like us to do and how can we move forward and I think that’s the important next step,” Jones told BBC radio.

TfL declined to comment yesterday.

London mayor Sadiq Khan, a Labour politician who has criticised the firm in the past, backed TfL’s decision and attacked the Silicon Valley app’s response.

“I appreciate Uber has an army of lawyers, they’ve also made aggressive threats about taking us to court and the rest of it,” he told BBC radio.

He said companies that played by the rules were welcome in London.