Private hire firm Ola set to offer ‘separate’ booking platform for black taxis says London Mayor

Private hire firm Ola are set to offer up a separate booking platform for black taxi drivers in London according to the London Mayor.

The app service originating from India claim to already have over 25,000 private hire drivers registered on the platform since launching on 10 February.

In many other cities around the UK the minicab operator offers both a licensed taxi and a private hire service to its users. However, London taxi drivers have historically rejected the idea of working with app services predominantly offering private hire options.

In February 2016, ride-hailing rivals Uber, offered to include black taxis on its platform. Just a handful of the 20,000 licensed cabbies signed up to the app and the option was later removed.

Keith Prince, a Conservative Assembly Member, quizzed the London Mayor on whether Ola would be classifying black taxis as minicabs if they were to accept a booking offered by the app.

Prince asked: “Ola are soon launching in London and they'll be dispatching bookings to taxi drivers via their app. Are taxi drivers to class this Ola booking as a private hire booking when they accept it?”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, replied on 28 February saying: “Ola launched its private hire services in London earlier this month, having met all the requirements for a private hire operator’s licence.

“While Ola does not currently offer a platform for taxis, I understand that it plans to do so in the future. This service would be separate to its private hire service and would be available to licensed taxi drivers using licensed taxis.

“Transport for London regulates private hire operators, however it does not regulate taxi app platforms. To do so would require legislative change as there are no provisions within the current regulatory framework."

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