After Uber, India’s Ola face license suspension threat in London

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Indian ride-hailing company Ola was stripped of its London operating license by the city’s public transport authority, who said that the taxi app was not “fit and proper” to carry one, having put passenger safety at risk.

It was in February this year that India-based Ola entered the London taxi business. It faces numerous rivals such as Estonia-based Bolt, Germany-based Freenow and US-based Uber along with traditional black cab drivers who had previously blocked streets in protest of what they see as a threat to their livelihoods.

Transport for London (TfL) claimed in a statement that it declined to issue a new London private hire vehicle (PHV) operator license to Ola, a Softbank-backed operator, as it “cannot find it fit and proper to hold one after finding a number of failures that could have placed public safety at risk.”

The decision of TfL came days after Uber won a legal battle to reclaim its London operating license, which was taken away over security concerns, after a judge ruled that despite “historical failures,” the company was a fit and proper operator.

TfL said it had found a number of shortcomings in Ola’s operations, including violations of its licensing regime, resulting in more than 1,000 passenger trips on the platform being undertaken by unlicensed drivers and vehicles. Ola is also accused of failing to notify Tfl of these violations when they were first found.

“Ola can continue to operate pending the outcome of any appeal process”, TfL said, adding that Ola had 21 days to appeal against TfL’s decision.

During the review period, Ola said it was working with TfL and “sought to provide assurances and resolve the concerns posed in an open and transparent manner.”

The company said, “Ola will take the opportunity to appeal this decision,” adding that it will continue to function as usual.

About Ola

The ride-hailing platform was launched in 2010 in India with an aim to provide mobility to a billion people. Apart from India and UK, Ola also has presence in Australia and New Zealand. It provides mobility solutions by connecting customers to drivers and a wide range of vehicles across cabs, rickshaws, bikes and cabs.