By Costas Pitas
LONDON (Reuters) – London Mayor Sadiq Khan welcomed the humility shown by Uber’s [UBER.UL] chief executive after the city stripped the taxi app of its license to operate, but once again criticized the company’s London management on Thursday.
Transport for London (TfL) shocked Uber last month by deeming it unfit to run a taxi service and refusing to renew its license, citing the firm’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences and background checks on drivers.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi met TfL Commissioner Mike Brown on Tuesday for discussions both sides described as “constructive.” Khan said he did not have talks with the Silicon Valley firm’s boss.
Khan, a center-left politician from the opposition Labour party, has repeatedly criticized Uber’s leadership in Britain, previously saying that instead of hiring “an army of PR experts and an army of lawyers” it needed to address the issues raised by TfL.
But Khan, who is also chairman of TfL, contrasted that with Khosrowshahi, who apologized for the firm’s mistakes in an open letter to Londoners last week.
“What gives me confidence about the TfL decision is the fact that the global chief executive officer for Uber apologized to London,” Khan told LBC Radio.
“I think that bodes well in relation to the humility which hasn’t been shown by Uber London or Uber UK,” he said.
Citing separate disagreements with unions in London over strike action on the underground train network, known as the tube, Khan said he always preferred to solve matters without court action.
“The global CEO has gone away to do some further work and I always think, as I said before when it came to the tube strikes, the way to resolve differences is constructively and amicably around a table rather than through litigation,” he said.
Asked on Thursday, Uber referred to its comments on Tuesday when it promised to “make things right in London.”
Uber’s license expired on Sept. 30 but its roughly 40,000 drivers – defined by the firm as those have made at least four trips in the last month – are still able to take passengers until an appeals process is exhausted, which could take months.
Uber’s fate in London will be decided by a judge who will rule on the appeal after it is submitted by Oct. 13.
The firm reported that 2016 revenue in Britain rose 59 percent to 37 million pounds ($49 million) and its pretax profit jumped 65 percent to 3 million pounds, according to a filing posted on Britain’s Companies House website.
Khosrowshahi, who has only been in the role for just over a month, has also had to deal with a fractured board in the United States, which on Tuesday attempted to end months of strife by unanimously passing a series of measures to shore up corporate governance, bring in major investor SoftBank and diminish the power of former CEO Travis Kalanick.
(Additional reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by Kate Holton and Mark Potter)