London will strip Uber of the licence to run a taxi service from the end of next week, declaring it unfit to run the service.
The ban, in a city known for its famous Black Cabs, is seen as a major blow to the US firm and 3.5 million users in one of the world’s wealthiest cities.
Regulator Transport for London, TfL, said the Silicon Valley technology giant’s approach and conduct was not fit and proper to hold a private vehicle hire license and it would not be renewed when it expires on September 30.
Uber, which has 40,000 drivers working in the capital, said it would contest the decision. Regulator Transport for London said it would let Uber operate until the appeals process is exhausted, which could take months.
“Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications,” TfL said.
Specifically, TfL cited Uber’s approach to reporting serious criminal offences, background checks on drivers and software called Greyball that could be used to block regulators from gaining full access to the app.
“Transport for London and the Mayor have caved in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice,” said Tom Elvidge, Uber’s general manager in London. “We intend to immediately challenge this in the courts.”
An online petition against the decision had gathered more than 200,000 signatures within five hours.
The loss of the license comes after a tumultuous few months for Uber, including a string of scandals involving allegations of sexism and bullying at the San Francisco-based start-up that forced out former CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick.
Uber, which is valued at about $70 billion and whose investors include Goldman Sachs, has faced protests around the world for shaking up long-established taxi markets.
The taxi app has also been forced to quit several countries, including Denmark and Hungary, and faced regulatory battles in multiple U.S. states and around the world.
London’s traditional black cab drivers have attacked Uber, saying it has undercut safety rules and threatened their livelihoods. Uber has been criticized by unions and lawmakers too and been embroiled in legal battles over workers’ rights.
London police also complained in a letter in April that Uber was either not disclosing, or taking too long to report, serious crimes including sexual assaults and this put the public at risk.