Indian Ride-Hailing App Ola Operating License Gets Rejected In London.

The Indian-based ride-hailing giant Ola loses its operating license in London. The Transport of London (TfL) said that the company does not meet its public safety requirements after encountering a number of failures which could have risked public safety.

Helen Chapman, TfL’s director of licensing, regulation, and charging said that “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.” He added that Ola can continue its operations in the city if they appeal against the decision. According to TfL, the applicant has a time period of 21 days to appeal against the rejected application.

According to TechCrunch, Ola has appealed against the decision which will give them the green signal to continue its operations “At Ola, our core principle is to work closely, collaboratively and transparently with regulators such as TfL,” Marc Rozendal, Ola’s UK MD, said in a statement. “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.”

 In 2018, the startup launched its services in the U.K.; moreover, it was granted a 15-month license to operate in London. The cab-hailing platform had commenced its operation in London on February 10, 2020. Ola said that it already has over 25,000 drivers on the board.  Over time, it has partnered with on-demand ride service provider Gett to serve its customers. Last month, two Ola drivers reportedly filed a lawsuit against the company for not adhering to GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) rules. Softbank-backed company has raised around USD 3.8 Billion to the date and since 2010 it has expanded its presence in more than 250 cities across India, New Zealand, UK, and Australia.

Ola is not the only ride-hailing company that has faced regulatory approval issues in London. The American ride-hailing giant Uber has been in a multi-year battle with TfL after its renewal was rejected on the basis of safety concerns and citing Uber as not “fit and proper” to continue its operations in the city. In 2018, Uber won the appeal and was granted a 15-month license; however, its renewal was once again denied on the grounds of public safety concerns. Nevertheless, it has won its appeal and will continue to hold a private ride-hailing service provider license.

“Uber does not have a perfect record but it has been an improving picture,” the judge said, adding: “I am satisfied that they are doing what a reasonable business in their sector could be expected to do, perhaps even more.” The company has gained an 18-months license grant for its operations in London. Its streets are currently dominated by Freenow, Bolt, and traditional cab drivers.