Uber rival denied London licence

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A week after Transport for London (TfL) was ordered by a court to issue a new 18 month licence to Uber to operate in the capital, the transportation agency has turned down a licence application from an Uber rival, on similar safety grounds that surrounded its original disagreement with Uber.

Transport for London (TfL) has refused to grant Ola a new London private hire vehicle (PHV) operator’s licence as it cannot find it fit and proper to hold one after discovering a number of failures that could have risked public safety.

Ola has been operating in London since February 2020 and recently made TfL aware of a number of failures that had potential public safety consequences. These included historic breaches of the licensing regime that led to unlicensed drivers and vehicles undertaking more than 1,000 passenger trips on behalf of Ola and
failure to draw these breaches to TfL’s attention immediately when they were first identified.

Applicants have a right to appeal a decision not to grant a licence to a magistrates’ court within 21 days. Ola can continue to operate pending the outcome of any appeal process. It was under these conditions that Uber has been operating in London for the past 11 months.

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.

“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’s regulation of London’s taxi and private hire trades is designed to ensure passenger safety. Private hire operators must meet rigorous regulations, and demonstrate to TfL that they do so, in order to operate. Before granting a licence, TfL must be satisfied that an operator is fit and proper to hold a private hire operator’s licence.

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About Author

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs in charge of public agencies around the world as well as chairmen and CEOs of multinational transportation technology corporations. Tom's early career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).