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Ola Replaces Uber in London

Transport for London (TfL) has opted not to renew Uber’s private hire operator’s license. While Uber has 21 days to appeal and can still operate during this time, competitor ride-hailing service Ola is poised to enter the London market. It says that its systems are compliant with TfL’s standards.

It was announced late last month that Transport for London (TfL), the body responsible for regulating transit in the British capital, has opted not to renew Uber’s private hire operator’s license. While Uber has 21 days to appeal the ruling and can operate as normal during this period, as The Blue Swan Daily reports, competitor ride-hailing services are poised to seize their share of the London market.

Say ‘Hello’ to Ola

One of these would-be rivals is Ola, an Indian-based service that already has a presence across the subcontinent as well as in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Though it launched back in 2011, Ola began operating in the UK in the summer of 2018. While it currently operates in 27 different British regions, it has now announced that it is ready to take on London.

Ahead of its launch in the city, Ola has said that it has started to register 50,000 licensed drivers within London.

In a statement issued on November 25th, TfL revoked Uber’s license over a host of concerns, including failures that apparently risked the safety and security of passengers. According to TfL, “A key issue identified was that a change to Uber’s systems allowed unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts. This allowed them to pick up passengers as though they were the booked driver, which occurred in at least 14,000 trips – putting passenger safety and security at risk.”

Speaking at the time, Helen Chapman, director of licensing, regulation and charging at TfL, said, “Safety is our absolute top priority. While we recognize Uber has made improvements, it is unacceptable that Uber has allowed passengers to get into minicabs with drivers who are potentially unlicensed and uninsured.”

Ola Offers Reassurance

Seeking to differentiate itself from Uber and offer reassurance to potential passengers in London, the Bengaluru-based company said in a statement that it offers and “industry-first driver facial recognition technology for continuous authentication” plus “driver image verification against driving license photographs to eliminate misrepresentation and re-entry of blocked drivers”.

The company adds that due to “robust technology systems”, TfL-compliant, licensed drivers are able to work as Ola operators.

Offering his comments on the launch, Simon Smith, the company’s head of international, said, “Today, we are inviting the tens of thousands of PHV [private hire vehicle] drivers across London to register themselves on the Ola platform, as we prepare 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 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.”

[Featured Image: Ola]

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