London regulator refuses license to ride-hailing firm Ola, citing passenger safety

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London’s public transport authority said Indian ride-hailing company Ola was not “fit and proper” to hold a license, having put passenger safety at risk and refused to grant one to the taxi app, days after Uber received a green light in the city.

Bengaluru-based Ola entered the London taxi market in February this year. The market is dominated by rivals including Uber, Freenow and Bolt and has seen drivers of traditional black cabs blocking streets in protest at what they see as a threat to their livelihoods.

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Transport for London (TfL) said in a statement that it refused to grant Ola, a Softbank-backed operator, a new London private hire vehicle (PHV) operator’s license.

TfL said Ola made it aware of its failings, including breaches of its licensing regime, which led to unlicensed drivers and vehicles undertaking more than 1,000 passenger trips on the platform’s behalf.

“Ola can continue to operate pending the outcome of any appeal process”, TfL said, adding that Ola had 21 days to appeal against the decision.

In an emailed statement, Ola said it was 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 said in May that it would cut about 1,400 jobs as the lockdown in India brought business to a screeching halt.

The lockdown has since eased, but companies across sectors still face challenges as demand for their services have dropped.

Uber on September 28 won a legal bid to restore its London operating license, which was taken away over safety concerns.

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