Transport for London has declined to give private hire company Ola a new operating licence have judged it not to be “fit and proper to hold one” after discovering what it calls “a number of failures that could have risked public safety”.
The decision, which On London has been told was taken less than three hours before the company’s old licence expired, was taken for reasons which TfL says include:
- Historic breaches of the licensing regime that led to unlicensed drivers and vehicles undertaking more than 1,000 passenger trips on behalf of Ola
- Failure to draw these breaches to TfL’s attention immediately when they were first identified.
Ola, a ride-hailing firm originating in India which has only been operating in London since February of this year, is described by TfL as having “recently made TfL aware” of the above difficulties and others. It was given its initial licence in July 2019.
The company has a right to appeal against TfL’s decision with 21 days and can continue to operate pending the outcome of the process, should it decide to pursue it.
Helen Chapman, TfL’s Director of Licensing, Regulation and Charging, said: “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.” She added: “We will closely scrutinise the company to ensure passengers safety is not compromised.”
TfL’s decision comes less than a week after Uber, the biggest ride-hailing company with around 45,000 drivers in London, won an appeal against TfL’s refusal to renew its licence last year. One of the primary reasons TfL gave for that decision was a flaw in Uber’s system that made it possible for unauthorised drivers to upload photos of themselves to legitimate drivers’ accounts, making it possible for them to pick up passengers.
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