New Delhi / Uber’s licence lost, Ola starts hiring drive for London launch

Livemint : Nov 27, 2019, 01:30 PM
New Delhi/London: A day after Uber, the world’s largest ride-hailing company, lost its commercial licence in London, its Indian rival Ola Cabs began registering drivers on Tuesday, ahead of launching commercial operations in the city. The Bengaluru-based company is already operating in British cities such as Birmingham, Bristol and Liverpool.

After competing with Uber on an equal footing in India, the Bhavish Aggarwal-led company has expanded to Australia and New Zealand, apart from the UK.

According to Simon Smith, head of international, Ola, the company is inviting tens of thousands of private hire vehicle drivers that are allowed to work for ride-hailing firms across London to register themselves on the Ola platform, as it prepares to launch in the city in the coming weeks.

“We have built a robust mobility platform for London, which is fully compliant with TfL’s (Transport for London’s) high standards. We have had constructive conversations with the authorities, drivers, and local communities in London over the past months, and look forward to contributing towards solving mobility issues in innovative and meaningful ways," added Smith.

An Ola spokesman declined to comment on whether the company’s decision was linked to Uber’s commercial licence cancellation in London.

On 25 November, Uber’s commercial licence was revoked by TfL, a local government body, as almost 14,000 trips were made by drivers with fake identities on the company’s platform. This was the second time Uber had lost its licence in London in the past three years.

On Monday, TfL ruled that ride-hailing app Uber does not meet the “fit and proper" requirements for private hire operators.

A spokesman for the transport body said “several breaches that placed passengers and their safety at risk" were identified. Inspectors discovered that at least 14,000 journeys were undertaken by drivers by exploiting “vulnerabilities" in the company’s app.

At least 43 drivers were found to have uploaded their photos onto another Uber driver account, which meant all the journeys were uninsured.

London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “At this stage TfL can’t be confident that Uber has the robust processes in place to prevent another serious safety breach in the future."

Uber said the TfL decision was “extraordinary and wrong" and vowed to appeal. It will be allowed to continue operating in the months before a court hearing. Uber has 21 days to lodge an appeal.