Cab-Wars: Ola seeks to gain from Uber's London pain, targets 50,000 licensed drivers

Last Updated: Wed, Nov 27, 2019 15:26 hrs
An illustration picture shows the logo of car-sharing service app Uber on a smartphone next to the picture of an official German taxi sign

New Delhi: If all goes according to Ola's plans, London could soon be the cab hailing platform's next pitstop.

On Tuesday Ola said that it was soon beginning operations in London and had started onboarding licensed drivers in the region.

"Ola has begun registering licenced drivers in London as it prepares to launch operations in the city... With this, over 50,000 licensed drivers will be able to join Ola and provide mobility services in London," a spokesperson was quoted as saying in a PTI report.

Ola received an operating licence from Transport for London (TfL) at the start of the year and the Bengaluru-based firm had forayed into operations starting with Cardiff in August last year. So far, it had expanded across Birmingham, Liverpool, Exeter, Reading, Bristol, Bath, Coventry, and Warwick in the UK.

"Today, we are inviting the tens of thousands of PHV (Private Hire Vehicle) drivers across London to register themselves on the Ola platform, as we prepare to launch in the city in the coming weeks. We have built a robust mobility platform for London which is fully compliant with TfL's high standards," Ola's Head of International Business Simon Smith was quoted as saying in a report.

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Simon added that the company has had constructive conversations with authorities, drivers, and local communities in London over the past months. "[We] look forward to contributing towards solving mobility issues in innovative and meaningful ways," he said.

The news of Ola targeting 50,000 licensed drivers comes at the same time as that of rival Uber losing its driving licence in London over safety failures. On Monday, a BBC report quoted the TfL as having found Uber not "fit and proper" for a licence-holder.

The cab aggregator was intially stripped of an operating license in September 2017 over "lack of corporate responsibility," but the recent problems involving loopholes in the firm's driver verification system may have lead the London travel agency to snap Uber's licence.

The TfL says that Uber did work hard to combat frauds perpetrated by drivers. It also added that it was not clear if Uber's efforts were enough. Uber can still appeal TfL's decision. However, London is one of Uber's top five markets with a total driver base of approximately 45,000. With each day passing rivals such as Bolt and Kapten are reportedly getting closer to more customers.

Ola's swift onboarding of drivers is expected to only add to Uber's worries in London.