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Ola’s licence in London was due for renewal on 3 October. (Photo: Mint)
Ola’s licence in London was due for renewal on 3 October. (Photo: Mint)

Ola’s London license revoked over safety concerns

  • Ola had launched operations in London in February, with over 25,000 drivers registering on its platform. London was the 28th city in the UK in which it had started operations, after rolling out services in Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool

BENGALURU: Cab aggregator Ola’s operating licence has been revoked by London’s public transport authority, citing breaches in passenger safety norms due to which the operator had to pull out its taxis from London roads.

London’s premier regulator Transport for London (TfL) on Monday said it had discovered multiple safety issues with Ola’s operations, including the 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 had launched its operations in London in February, with over 25,000 drivers registering on its platform. London was the 28th city in the UK in which Ola had started operations, with services earlier rolled out in Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool, among others.

“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 in a statement on Monday.

"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," Chapman added.

A person aware of Ola’s UK operations said the cab aggregator has been working closely with TfL ahead of its scheduled renewal, and as a standard practice it conducts multiple safety checks.

“In the course of this process, TfL has asked for further reassurances, primarily around technical operation of our databases. The decision accords us the opportunity to appeal which we will exercise, so our operations will continue as usual. TfL has an important job to do and we will help them do this, constructively and cooperatively," the person quoted above added.

TfL originally gave its approval to the Indian company in July 2019 to start private hire vehicles (PHV) in the UK’s capital. Under the system, drivers are required to apply for a license and list their vehicle as a privately registered vehicle for hire.

Ola’s licence revocation comes just a week after Uber’s license in London was restored by a court ruling almost 10 months after latter's license was revoked due to safety concerns raised by TfL in 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, the UK, said in an emailed response to Mint’s queries.

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