Ride-hailing company Ola on Tuesday said it has started registering licenced drivers in London on its platform ahead of the launch of its operations in the city. Ola, which received an operating licence from Transport for London (TFL) earlier this year, said that "over 50,000 licenced drivers will now be assured that they can continue to provide mobility services in London." Ola was launched last year in August in the UK with Cardiff and has since then expanded to Birmingham, Liverpool, Exeter, Reading, Bristol, Bath, Coventry, and Warwick. Ola competes with Uber in its home market India, and others such as the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
The development comes around 24 hours after reports on Uber losing its London licence surfaced as TFL found that over 14,000 Uber trips were driven by drivers that had faked their identity on Uber app, The Guardian reported. However, this isn’t the first time that Uber has been stripped of its licence. TFL had not renewed its licence in September 2017 as well however the company had managed to get a 15-month licence to operate in the city. This possibly leaves Ola to tap on the 50,000 drivers that are likely to be impacted by the Uber ban in London.
According to the UK's independent trade union that represents migrant workers and have been speaking for the rights of Uber drivers — Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB), Uber licence ban would "come as a hammer blow to its 50,000 drivers working under precarious conditions," The Guardian quoted James Farrar of IWGB. To ensure verification of drivers on its part, Ola said it has features such as industry-first driver facial recognition technology for continuous authentication, driver image verification against driving licence photographs to eliminate misrepresentation and re-entry of blocked drivers, technology systems to ensure that only licenced drivers compliant with TfL requirements can operate on the platform along with storing digital copies of vehicle insurance certificate, MOT certificate, and driver's licence, to ensure they are up to date.
"Today, we are inviting the tens of thousands of PHV drivers across London to register themselves on the Ola platform, as we prepare to launch in the city in the coming weeks,"Simon Smith, Head of International, Ola adding that the company had talked to city authorities, drivers, and local communities over the past months. Ola currently has more than 2 million drivers on its platform and has a presence in over 250 Indian cities.