TRANSPORT for London has stripped Indian ride-hailing company Ola of its London operating licence, saying that the taxi app was not “fit and proper” to hold one, having put passenger safety at risk.
Bengaluru-based Ola entered the London taxi market in February this year. The market is dominated by rivals including Uber, Freenow and Bolt, and traditional black cab drivers who previously blocked streets in protest at what they see as a threat to their livelihoods.
The transport regulator said on Monday (5) that it refused to grant Ola, a Softbank-backed operator, a new London private hire vehicle (PHV) operator’s licence as it “cannot find it fit and proper to hold one after discovering a number of failures that could have risked public safety”.
Ola said it will appeal the decision, and continue to operate pending the outcome of the process.
TfL’s decision came days after Uber won a legal bid to restore its London operating licence, which was taken away over safety concerns, after a judge ruled that the company was a fit and proper operator despite “historical failings”.
TfL said it had discovered a number of failures in Ola’s operations, including breaches of its licensing regime, which led to unlicensed drivers and vehicles undertaking more than 1,000 passenger trips on the platform’s behalf.
Ola was also accused of failing to notify TfL of the breaches when they were first identified.
“Our duty as a regulator is to ensure passenger safety,” said Helen Chapman, TfL’s director of licensing, regulation and charging.
“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.”
Ola could continue service if it goes for an appeal, adding that TfL “will closely scrutinise the company to ensure passengers safety is not compromised”.
Ola UK managing director Marc Rozendal said the company was working with TfL during the review period and “have sought to provide assurances and address the issues raised in an open and transparent manner”.
“At Ola, our core principle is to work closely, collaboratively and transparently with regulators such as TfL,” he added.