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Ola’s licence in London was due for renewal on 3 October.
Ola’s licence in London was due for renewal on 3 October.

London bans Ola for breach in safety rules

  • Regulator Transport for London says it discovered multiple safety issues with Ola’s operations, including failure to stop unlicensed drivers from operating on the roads

Cab aggregator Ola’s operating licence has been revoked by London’s public transport authority over alleged breaches in passenger safety norms.

Regulator Transport for London (TfL) on Monday said it discovered multiple safety issues with Ola’s operations, including failure to stop unlicensed drivers from operating on the roads. Ola’s licence in London was due for renewal on 3 October.

The Bengaluru-based cab aggregator launched its London operations in February with over 25,000 drivers registered on its platform. London was the 28th city in the UK in which Ola operated after launches in Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool.

“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," Helen Chapman, director of licensing, regulation and charging said.

Ola said it will appeal against the ban. The company has 21 days to do so.

“If they do appeal, Ola can continue to operate, and drivers can continue to undertake bookings. We will closely scrutinize the company to ensure passengers’ safety is not compromised," Chapman added.

Rival Uber’s licence for London was restored by a court a week ago, almost 10 months after it was revoked due to safety concerns raised by TfL last December.

“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," Marc Rozendal, managing director, Ola UK, said in an emailed response.

A person familiar with Ola’s UK operations said the cab aggregator had been working closely with TfL ahead of the planned renewal of its licence on 3 October. The person said TfL, as a standard practice, conducts multiple safety checks.

“In the course of this process, TfL has asked for further reassurances, primarily around the technical operation of our databases. The decision accords us the opportunity to appeal, which we will exercise, so our operations will continue as usual," the person added.

TfL gave its nod to the Indian firm in July 2019 to start private hire vehicles (PHV) in London. Under the PHV system, drivers need to apply for a licence and list their vehicle as a privately registered vehicle for hire.

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