Uber ready to change 'wrong attitude', MPs told

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Ride-hailing company Uber believes there is a "path forward" towards resolving its dispute with Transport for London and receiving permission to continue operating in the capital, an executive has told MPs.

Head of public policy Andrew Byrne said the company accepted it had shown "the wrong attitude" on a number of issues and was ready to change some practices.

TfL refused to renew the firm's licence last month on the grounds of "public safety and security implications" relating to issues like the reporting of serious criminal offences.

After an initially confrontational response from the company, its chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi offered an apology for "mistakes" in an open letter.

Mr Khosrowshahi later met TfL for what both sides described as "constructive" talks and further discussions are expected as an appeal process goes ahead.

Some 3.5 million passengers use the Uber smartphone app to hail rides in London, according to company figures, and more than 850,000 people have signed a petition calling for its licence to be renewed.

Mr Byrne told the House of Commons Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee: "The company accepts that in lots of places it has had the wrong attitude and needs to change."

Asked about the aggressive stance which Uber initially took towards the decision, he told MPs: "There was a high strength of feeling from people in the business, but I think we have got to the place where we accept we need to do more to address TfL's concerns.

"I think we are very conscious of the fact that 40,000 people do earn money through Uber in London. That fact weighs very heavily on our response.

"But hopefully we can see a path forward now with TfL where we can address their concerns and continue to operate."

Mr Byrne said Uber was taking part in a working party with the Metropolitan Police to develop a new policy for dealing with complaints of sexual harassment.

"We previously said it is the choice for anyone who wants to make the allegation whether they report it or not," he explained.

"The police have said to us that is not good enough, and we are making it a policy to change that."

He said Uber's technology, which allows it to identify drivers and track cars at all times during journeys, enabled the company to "be far more helpful in holding people to account with police investigations than a traditional private hire operator or taxi company".

And he said Uber was considering a policy which would block drivers from taking fares for more than 10-12 hours during a 24-hour period, in order to reduce the risk of them operating when too tired to drive safely.

Mr Byrne played down suggestions that self-employed drivers might lose their jobs to driverless cars in the near future, telling the committee: "A fleet with lots of human drivers will be the norm for 10 to 20 years, and that will continue to be the case in the UK".