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Uber CEO apologizes to Londoners for messing up

Uber has gone from being outraged to humble, as the company's CEO issues a public apology to Londoners.

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Uber is fighting to have its London licence renewed.

Daniel Leal-olivas / AFP/Getty Images

CEO of Uber Dara Khosrowshahi apologized to Londoners on Monday, acknowledging that the company "got things wrong."

In an open letter to the city, Khosrowshahi promised to listen to London's residents as he writes the company's next chapter.

"On behalf of everyone at Uber globally, I apologise for the mistakes we've made," he said.

The company also called for talks with London's transport regulator Transport for London on Monday in a bid to improve after it had its license renewal request denied on Friday.

Uber's Head of Cities for the UK Fred Jones told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme that the company wants to better understand TfL's concerns, particularly over the way it conducts background checks on drivers and reports serious incidents to the police.

Uber is facing the possibility it will be banned in the city after TfL laid out its concerns while refusing to renew the company's licence to operate in the British capital when it expires on Sept. 30. Uber has 21 days to appeal the decision and is allowed to continue operating throughout the process.

Jones said he understood that it was TfL and not London Mayor Sadiq Khan who had rejected the licence, backpedalling from the statements issued by Uber on Friday, which addressed the mayor directly and claimed both he and TfL were making a politically motivated decision.

Following TfL's announcement on Friday Uber launched a petition, in which the company claimed: "By wanting to ban our app from the capital, Transport for London and their chairman the Mayor have given in to a small number of people who want to restrict consumer choice." It has so far attracted over 750,000 signatures.

But Jones is now presenting an alternative interpretation. "What's become clear over the weekend is this was TfL's licensing decision," he said. "It's just not clear for us what their concerns might be."

Uber is confused by TfL's accusations over the way background checks are performed, he told the BBC. He also defended Uber's record for dealing criminal incidents, saying that the Met Police Force had not approached the company directly before making its concerns public.

In August this year, Head of the Metropolitan Police's taxi and private hire unit Inspector Neil Billany claimed the company was putting riders at risk by turning a blind eye to criminal activity by its drivers and "deciding what to report" based on what was "less damaging to its reputation."

Uber is now working with police, said Jones, "to figure out how we can do this in a better way that's helpful to them."