London transport officials have refused to grant a new license to Ola over safety concerns, saying the Indian ride-hailing app is not “fit and proper to hold one.”
Transport for London said in a statement on Sunday that unlicensed vehicles and drivers had made more than 1,000 trips on the app, and that Ola had failed to notify the regulator of the breaches when they were first identified.
“Our duty as a regulator is to ensure passenger safety,” said Helen Chapman, the director of licensing, regulation and charging at Transport for London. “We will closely scrutinize the company to ensure passenger safety is not compromised.”
Ola is one of several apps including Bolt, Kapten and ViaVan to challenge Uber and traditional black cabs in the lucrative urban market. It said in a statement that it would appeal the decision. The app will be allowed to continue operating in London during the appeals process.
Marc Rozendal, the startup’s UK managing director, said that “our core principle is to work closely, collaboratively and transparently with regulators.”
“We have been working with [Transport for London] during the review period and have sought to provide assurances and address the issues raised in an open and transparent manner,” he added.
Ola, which is based in Bangalore and backed by Japan’s SoftBank (SFTBF), has been operating in London since February.
Uber (UBER) has faced a lengthy battle with regulators in the city. London first refused to renew the US company’s license in 2017, citing several concerns including how it responded to serious crimes. Uber appealed that decision and was later granted permission to operate for 15 months.
The regulator again declined to grant Uber a license in November 2019. Last week, the company received a new license for 18 months after a judge ruled it had a right to continue operating in London.