Updated: Oct 5, 2020
Transport for London (TfL) has refused to grant Ola a new London private hire vehicle (PHV) operator’s licence as it cannot find it fit and proper to hold one after discovering a number of failures that could have risked public safety.
TfL regulate London's taxi and private hire trades which is designed to ensure passenger safety. As part of licensing conditions, private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate.
Ola has been operating in London since February 2020 and recently made TfL aware of a number of failures that had potential public safety consequences. These included:
Historic breaches of the licensing regime that led to unlicensed drivers and vehicles undertaking more than 1,000 passenger trips on behalf of Ola
Failure to draw these breaches to TfL’s attention immediately when they were first identified.
Applicants have a right to appeal a decision not to grant a licence to a magistrates’ court within 21 days. Ola can continue to operate pending the outcome of any appeal process.
Ola officially launched in London in February 2020 following its UK launch in August 2018, and operates in 27 cities in the UK and over 250 globally.
The ride-hailing firm claims to have over 25,000 drivers registered in the capital offering three categories of rides to customers: Comfort, Comfort XL and Exec.
Gett, one of the big players in corporate ground travel and known for using London’s iconic black taxi, announced a ‘strategic partnership’ in August with Ola.
Helen Chapman, TfL’s Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging, said: “Our duty as a regulator is to ensure passenger safety. Through our investigations we discovered that flaws in Ola’s operating model have led to the use of unlicensed drivers and vehicles in more than 1,000 passenger trips, which may have put passenger safety at risk.”
“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.”
Marc Rozendal, Ola’s UK Managing Director: “At Ola, our core principle is to work closely, collaboratively and transparently with regulators such as TfL. We have been working with TfL during the review period and have sought to provide assurances and address the issues raised in an open and transparent manner.
"Ola will take the opportunity to appeal this decision and in doing so, our riders and drivers can rest assured that we will continue to operate as normal, providing safe and reliable mobility for London."