Uber rival Ola banned from operating in London

Ola, a major rival of Uber, have been banned from operating in London due to a number of failures that could risk public safety .

Transport for London (TfL) announced that Ola had been refused a new London private hire vehicle (PHV) operator’s license as it could not find the ride-hailing app Ola fit and proper to hold it.

Ola launched in London in February as another rival to Uber and claimed it would “focus on drivers, safety and a collaborative approach”.

On Sunday, Ola said it would appeal against the decision.

The India-based firm recently made TfL aware of a number of failures that had potential public safety consequences.

These included historical breaches of the licensing regime that led to unlicensed drivers and vehicles undertaking more than 1,000 passenger trips on behalf of Ola, and failure to draw these breaches to TfL’s attention immediately when they were first identified.

TFL said applicants have a right to appeal against a decision not to grant a licence to a magistrates’ court within 21 days, and Ola can continue to operate pending the outcome of any appeal process.

Helen Chapman, TfL’s director of licensing, regulation and charging, said: “Our duty as a regulator is to ensure passenger safety.

“Through our investigations we discovered that flaws in Ola’s operating model have led to the use of unlicensed drivers and vehicles in more than 1,000 passenger trips, which may have put passenger safety at risk.

“If they do appeal, Ola can continue to operate and drivers can continue to undertake bookings on behalf of Ola.

“We will closely scrutinise the company to ensure passengers’ safety is not compromised.”

Ola was founded in 2011 and began operating in the UK in South Wales in August 2018.

It has since expanded to locations such as Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol and Reading.

In February the firm said it has 20,000 drivers signed up to its platform in the capital.

TfL’s refusal to grant Ola a new licence comes after Uber was granted an 18-month licence last week to operate in London after a judge decided it was now a fit and proper company “despite historical failings”.

Uber was denied a licence by TfL in November 2019, citing breaches which compromised passenger safety and issues with transparency.

Marc Rozendal, Ola’s UK managing director, said: “At Ola, our core principle is to work closely, collaboratively and transparently with regulators such as TfL.

“We have been working with TfL during the review period and have sought to provide assurances and address the issues raised in an open and transparent manner.

“Ola will take the opportunity to appeal this decision and in doing so, our riders and drivers can rest assured that we will continue to operate as normal, providing safe and reliable mobility for London.”

Surrey Comet | Kingston