Ola to start operations in London soon
Ride-hailing platform Ola Cabs is set to begin operations in London soon. The firm received its operating license from Transport for London (TfL) earlier this year and has spent the last few months in conversation with stake-holders like authorities, drivers, and local communities in London before deciding to set up shop.
This development comes at a time when Ola's biggest competitor Uber lost its license to operate in London. TfL found that over 14,000 rides on its platform were conducted by drivers with fake identities. The authority thinks that this puts passenger safety at risk. Uber, however, is set to challenge the ban within the 21-day appeal window.
This is a pitfall that Ola will have to work hard to avoid as well. The firm is taking in over 50,000 drivers for its London operations, many of them previously affiliated with Uber, and will need to ensure passenger safety is not compromised. In India, there have been regular incidents of crimes by drivers, especially against women. An emergency response system is in place but its efficacy has sometimes been questioned during incidents in India. Another innovative step by the Bangalore based tech giant has been the launch of in-trip insurance options for riders. For its entry into London, the ride-hailing service has cited its driver facial recognition technology and an in-app emergency button as measures it takes to monitor rider safety.
Among other safety measures taken by the firm are that drivers can now upload higher quality photos of themselves onto the app. Further, the firm claims it conducts audit checks through on-ground personnel at hubs like airports and railway stations to regulate drivers and vehicle condition. All of this falls under its Street Safe initiative in India, route deviations, unexpected and midway stops, amongst others are also regulated. Based on the indicators and time of travel, safety triggers are initiated which are attended to by Ola's Safety Response Team (SRT). Ola will have to ensure all of these initiatives are replicated effectively in London, in line with what the TfL expects from services like Ola
The service debuted in the UK in August last year with services in Cardiff. It has since expanded to Birmingham, Liverpool, Exeter, Reading, Bristol, Bath, Coventry, and Warwick. The company released a statement saying, "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."
Ola is already present in over 250 cities worldwide. Aside from India, it functions in Australia and New Zealand as well.