After Rape Incident, Uber Suspends Service In New Delhi While It Reviews Operations

Uber has announced today that it will suspend services in New Delhi, India, pending a wider internal review of its operations in the city that will include a full audit of how it verifies riders and feedback; partnering with local organizations to improve women’s safety; and a look at how it can bring in more best practices from other Uber operations.

The move comes in the wake of an incident last weekend, in which a female Uber passenger was raped by a driver. The authorities said that they would take legal action against the company over its failure to run appropriate checks on the driver, and actually banned service.

For now it looks like New Delhi is the only city where Uber is halting operations in India. It’s active in 11 cities still in the country including Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

While Uber initially continued to operate regardless of the ban, today it has decided to reverse that course. Its note came with a strong tone of contrition, where it apologised again for the events over the weekend and explained why it’s halting operations. Writes Uber’s comms lead for the India and SE Asia region, Karun Arya:

The events of this week have made us reflect on our operations in India and we are immediately undertaking a number of important actions. During this review, we will suspend operations in New Delhi.

In the midst of a lot of controversy over Uber’s business practices — controversy that started before last weekend, and included a number of other issues alongside that of passenger safety, such as how Uber handles passenger privacy, how it works with local regulations in multiple markets, and aggressive, competition-busting pricing — the company last week announced a huge fundraise of $1.2 billion at a valuation of over $40 billion.

Those are numbers that not only may have given the company and its backers pause to think, but also give Uber the cushion to pause for a moment.

Up to now, the wave of negative stories and hurdles for Uber have been buffered by the company’s rapid growth and cash generation.

Still, you can’t help but feel like the negative flow has been accelerating, with increasing city governments slapping the company with fines and bans, and users taking to social media to #deleteUber. While CEO Travis Kalanick has been mindful to say that Uber will grow with sensitivity in mind, now it’s taking more comprehensive steps to put its money where its mouth is.