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Ride-Hailing Giant Ola Might Snitch Uber’s Pole Position in London

Ola has been active in parts of the UK since last year and is now heading for London. Meanwhile, Uber is about to lose its private hire operator license from Transport for London (TfL). [1,2]

This Indian ride-hailing firm is serious about ramping up their operations in the UK, as an important tool to prosper on the European market. According to the firm itself, it can currently serve about 7 million users across 27 towns in the UK but are now aiming to deploy 50,000 drivers in its capital.

But how will they succeed to on-board that many drivers in a city where Uber is already present you might think? To begin with, Ola is allegedly allowing their drivers to keep more of their earnings to win them over. But more importantly, they might actually be able to avoid all future competition from Uber in London due to a recent statement from TfL to revoke Uber’s license to operate.

According to TfL, Uber has made a number of positive changes and improvements since being granted a license back in June 2018, but they are still having issues with breaches that have placed passengers and their safety at risk. Several system failures have allowed unauthorized drivers to upload their photos to other Uber driver accounts (or create own accounts even though they have been suspended) and pick up passengers. Moreover, some insurance-related issues have occurred, permitting the use of vehicles without correct hire or reward insurance in place.

Ola clearly states that they will ensure careful consideration of safety features (which is TfL’s number one priority), to prevent any repetition of the Uber saga in the UK capital.


Personal comments

The phenomenon of lost licenses isn’t something new for Uber in London. In fact, this happened back in 2017 also, but they managed to regain their license in 2018. It’s interesting to see how a government with major focus on safety, like TfL, finds issues with the current ride-hailing market that are serious enough to revoke operator licenses, even though they have been active for many years. Question is whether other cities and governments around the world are aware of these issues, or will the story keep repeating itself? Hopefully, the ride-hailing operators will not only adapt to the situation in London, but make sure to integrate these learnings across their global businesses.


Written by Hampus Alfredsson, RISE Viktoria.



1. 2019-11-26. India’s Ola to begin operations in London in ‘coming weeks’.

2. 2019-11-25. Uber London Limited found to be not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.