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London Transport Regulator Bans India’s Ola over ‘Public Safety’ Shortcomings

UTC by Steve Muchoki · 3 min read
London Transport Regulator Bans India’s Ola over ‘Public Safety’ Shortcomings
Photo: Depositphotos

Ola has three weeks to continue operating and file for an appeal, whereby after this period is over it will be completely banned in London.

London public transport authority refused to grant India’s ride-hailing Ola a new operator’s license after concluding it is not “fit and proper” to hold one. The Indian based app that is backed by Japanese tech giant SoftBank is said to have allowed over 1000 trips with unlicensed vehicles and drivers, which directly endangered the passengers.

“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,” Helen Chapman, TfL’s director of licensing, regulation and charging, said in a statement.

Ola and London Taxi Business

The Ola app posed a direct competition to the leading hailing app Uber Technologies Inc (NYSE: UBER) which coincidentally last week won a court battle that allows it to keep operating in London. Uber had been involved in a lengthy feud with Transport for London over its own safety record that dates back to 2017.

Hereby, Uber is now operational in London with reduced competition in its industry. Other apps that offer direct competition to Uber in London include Bolt, Free-Now, Addison Lee, and Gett. However, Ola through its leadership has indicated that it will appeal the ruling and challenge until vindicated.

“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,” Helen Chapman, Ola’s U.K. managing director, stated.

Previously Transport for London indicated that a glitch in Uber’s systems allowed unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other driver accounts and fraudulently pick up passengers for at least 14,000 journeys.

As a result, Uber was compelled to work and fix the bug in its system before being allowed back in the market. As for Ola, it will have to convince the court beyond reasonable doubts that the passengers are safe and free from system exploitation.

Ola has three weeks to continue operating and file for an appeal, whereby after the duration is over it will be completely banned.

“Ola can continue to operate pending the outcome of any appeal process”, TfL said.

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