Uber rival Ola loses London licence

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2 min read
Pedestrians and busy traffic on the Farringdon Road in the City of London with a London bus carrying an ad about speeding in the capital, on 16th September 2020, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)
Traffic at Farringdon Road in the City of London. Photo: Richard Baker/In Pictures via Getty Images

Transport for London (TfL) has refused to grant Uber (UBER) rival Ola a new London licence, after discovering a number of failures that “could have risked public safety.”

The decision comes just a week after Uber had its appeal for a licence to operate in the capital extended by 18 months.

The regulator refused Ola’s private hire vehicle (PHV) operator’s licence due to “historic breaches of the licensing regime that led to unlicensed drivers and vehicles undertaking more than 1,000 passenger trips on behalf of Ola.”

It also said that Ola failed “to draw these breaches to TfL’s attention immediately when they were first identified.”

TfL said the regulation of the London taxi and private hire space is designed to ensure passenger safety.

Ola has the right to appeal the decision to a magistrates’ court within 21 days. Ola can continue to operate pending the outcome of any appeal process.

Helen Chapman, TfL’s director of licensing, regulation and charging, said: “Our duty as a regulator is to ensure passenger safety.

“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.”

The taxi company had only entered the London market in February of this year, and recently claimed to have 25,000 registered drivers on its platform in the capital.

It also operates in other UK cities, including Birmingham, Cardiff and Liverpool.

The development comes in contrast to Uber’s recent win. TfL had decided not to renew the company’s licence last November, arguing that it was not “fit and proper.”

READ MORE: Uber shares rally after London licence victory

London is one of Uber’s biggest international markets, with over 45,000 drivers in the British capital and more than 3 million users.

TfL first refused Uber a licence in 2017. The regulator cited a litany of concerns around fraud and passenger safety.

Uber has been battling to regain full authorisation since then, although has continued to operate in London under temporary licences.

The most recent renewal buys the company 18 months until it runs out again.

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