London, United Kingdom (Urban Transport News): UK's transport regulator Transport for London (TfL) has refused to grant Ola a new private hire vehicle (PHV) operator's licence as it is not found fit and proper to hold the licence to operate taxies in London. The decision was taken after getting adverse reports and discovering a number of failures that could have risked public safety.
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.
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.
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.'
Ola was granted a 15-month licence on 4th July 2019, which expired on 3 October 2020.