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Ola refused licence for London on back of TfL concerns

Ride-hailing firm Ola has been refused a new licence for London after Transport for London (TfL) said it wasn’t “fit and proper” to hold one.

Ola has said it will appeal TfL’s decision

The Indian firm expanded its UK operations into London in February 2020 in a move to take the fight to Uber, but recently made TfL aware of a number of failures that had potential public safety consequences.

As well as breaches of the licensing regime that led to unlicensed drivers and vehicles undertaking more than 1,000 passenger trips on behalf of Ola, TfL said the firm had failed to draw these breaches to its attention immediately when they were first identified.

It’s not the end of Ola’s operations in London though. It has 21 days to appeal – something it has already said it will do – and it can and will continue to operate pending the outcome of any appeal process. The announcement also doesn’t affect its operations in South Wales and cities including Birmingham, Coventry and Warwick.

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.”

Announcing the company’s decision to appeal, 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.”

The news comes a week after rival Uber was granted an 18-month licence for London after it won its own long-standing battle with TfL to operate in the capital. Uber had been appealing for a licence renewal after losing its licence for London in 2017 and having previously been awarded two probationary licences.

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for 16 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day. As Business Editor, Natalie ensures the group websites and newsletters are updated with the latest news.

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