Ola begins onboarding drivers in London as rival Uber loses licence

Topics Ola | ola UK | Uber

Bhavish Aggarwal, co-founder and CEO, Ola Cabs
At a time when Uber has lost the licence to operate in London, its rival Ola has begun registering licenced drivers in London as it prepares to launch its ride-hailing service in the UK capital in the coming weeks. With this, the company said on Tuesday over 50,000 licenced drivers will now be assured that they can continue to provide mobility services in London. Drivers can initiate their registration on the Ola app.

The Bengaluru-based company launched its operations in the UK starting with Cardiff in August 2018. SoftBank-backed Ola has been steadily expanding across the country to now serving millions of users across Birmingham, Liverpool, Exeter, Reading, Bristol, Bath, Coventry, and Warwick.

“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 (Transport for London) high standards,” said Simon Smith, Head of International, Ola. “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.”

Ola received an operating licence from Transport for London (TfL) earlier this year. Its platform is already available to serve over seven million users across 27 boroughs in the UK. In Australia and New Zealand, Ola said it has passed all regulatory audits so far, adhering to safety standards that are similar to those of TfL. Ola’s service is now available in more than 250 cities around the world, in India, Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

This week US-based Uber lost its licence to operate in London. Transport for London, the UK Capital’s transport regulator had said that Uber will not be given a new licence in London after repeated safety failures. A key issue identified was that a change to Uber's systems allowed unauthorised 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.

Ola said it is providing 24/7 helplines for customers and drivers to contact Ola’s support team. It is providing an in-app emergency button that allows users to alert Ola’s Safety Response Team in the event of any problems with a ride. This feature can also be used to contact emergency services or to instantly share ride information, including real-time car tracking with friends and family. An industry-first driver facial recognition technology would be used for continuous authentication. Ola is also doing driver image verification against driving licence photographs to eliminate misrepresentation and re-entry of blocked drivers.

Ola said it places drivers at the heart of its operating philosophy, charging favourable commissions to allow drivers to keep more of their earnings. Giving drivers a fair deal is central to the Ola approach, said the company.

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