Uber rival Ola found 'not fit and proper' to hold licence in London

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Ride-hailing app Ola has been refused a new licence to operate in London due to safety concerns.

Transport for London said it cannot find Ola “fit and proper” to hold a new private hire vehicle operator’s licence after discovering a number of failures that could have risked public safety.

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

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.

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.”

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.

Responding to the decision, 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.”

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.

The firm was granted a 15-month licence to operate in London on July 4 last year, which expired on October 3.

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.