Ola to launch operations in Britain

Vidya Ram London | Updated on August 07, 2018

Cab aggregator gets licence to operate in South Wales and Greater Manchester

 Ola, the ride-hailing app, is set to enter the UK market, stepping up competition with rival Uber.

Ola said on Tuesday it has obtained the licence to operate in South Wales and Greater Manchester, and will launch its first operations within next month. It hopes to expand across the rest of the UK by the end of the year.

The company will offer both private hire vehicles and black cabs on its platform. It said further options will be added in the future.

Announcing the launch, Ola sought to attract drivers based in South Wales and Greater Manchester, emphasising low introductory commission rates for both private hire and metered vehicles.

“We’re bringing Ola to the UK! Very excited to offer a responsible, new ride-hailing service to one of the world’s most sophisticated transportation markets & one that we share so much history with. It’s a momentous moment,” tweeted Bhavish Aggarwal, who co-founded the company in 2011.

Ola has over 1 million drivers and 125 million customers across 110 cities and says 1 billion rides are made through the app annually.

Foray Down Under

Earlier this year, Ola made its first foray beyond India, as it launched in Australia, where it now has over 40,000 drivers, with operations across seven cities.

Like rival Uber, which operates across the UK, Ola is backed by Japan’s SoftBank Group. While the UK has proved a sizeable market for Uber, it has not been without its struggles, with the company facing criticism over passenger safety and the treatment of drivers. Last month, a court granted Uber a 15-month extension to its London licence after Transport for London (TFL) initially stripped the US firm of its licence last year.

However, Uber’s legal headache continues as the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association said it was seeking legal advice about potential class action against Uber over losses to earnings. However, Uber has also received considerable public support: over 800,000 had signed a petition urging TFL to change its decision.

Safety measures

Ola sought to address some of the concerns around ride sharing apps, promising that it would put in place industry-leading passenger safety measures, including drivers screened by Britain’s Disclosure and Barring Service, 24/7 voice support, options to share ride details with emergency contacts and in-app emergency features.

“Ola is recognised for its collaborative approach, working with national governments and local authorities, to help solve transport mobility issues in innovative and meaningful ways,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to our continued engagement with policymakers and regulators as we expand across the country and build a company embedded in the UK,” said Aggarwal.

A spokesperson for TFL said it worked closely with technologies companies around the world to “support innovation that could complement transport in London”.

“Our regulation of London's taxi and private hire trades ensures passenger safety, with private hire operators having to demonstrate they meet rigorous standards in order to operate. We do not comment on individual licence applications,” it added.

Published on August 07, 2018

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