Ola to appeal after London refuses licence over public safety risk

Indian ride-hailing service Ola said on Monday that it would appeal the decision by London’s transport officials to refuse it another licence over a “number of failures that could have risked public safety”.

Ola, which has been operating in London since February 2020, was granted a 15-month licence by Transport for London (TfL) on July 4, 2019, which expired on Saturday. After it lodged the appeal, officials said the company can continue to operate pending the outcome of any appeals process.

Marc Rozendal, Ola’s UK managing director, said: “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.”

TfL, the public body responsible for the capital’s network, said that before granting a licence, it must be satisfied that the operator is ‘fit and proper’ to hold a private operator’s licence. Ola also operates in south-west England.

TfL added that the number of failures with potential public safety consequences includes historic breaches of the licensing regime that led to unlicensed drivers and vehicles undertaking more than 1,000 passenger trips on behalf of Ola.

Besides, it said there has been a failure to draw these breaches to TfL’s attention immediately when they were first identified.

Helen Chapman of TfL 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.”

TfL had raised similar issues with Ola’s rival, Uber. On September 28, the Westminster Magistrates Court ruled that Uber, whose licence was revoked last November, is now ‘fit and proper’ to run private car services after the issues were addressed.

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