Indian ride-hailing app Ola has started on-boarding drivers in London as it prepares to fill a potential gap after rival Uber had its licence revoked.

The firm, which first entered the UK market in 2018 with the launch of services in South Wales and Greater Manchester, said it received a private hire operating licence from Transport for London (TfL) earlier this year. The app is already able to serve passengers across 27 boroughs in the UK.

It plans to launch services in London in the coming weeks and is appealing to licensed private hire vehicle (PHV) drivers to register.

The news follows TfL’s decision to revoke Uber’s licence after it found a series of issues that it claimed put passengers at risk. One key flaw discovered by the regulator allows unauthorised drivers to use another operator’s details to continue accepting rides through the app.

Ola said its debut in the capital will mean “50,000 licensed drivers will now be assured that they can continue to provide mobility services in London”.

The app includes safety features for drivers and passengers, including a 24/7 helpline, in-app emergency button that allows users to alert Ola’s safety response team and can also be used to contact emergency services, the ability to share ride information including real-time car tracking, driver facial recognition technology and image verification against licence photographs, technology that blocks drivers who don’t comply with TfL’s requirements and the digital storage of documents such as vehicle insurance and MOT certificates and driver’s licences.

Simon Smith, head of international at Ola, commented: “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. We have built a robust mobility platform for London which is fully compliant with TfL’s high standards. We have had constructive conversations with the authorities, drivers and local communities in London over the past months and look forward to contributing towards solving mobility issues in innovative and meaningful ways.”

Ola will join European app Bolt in competing with Uber, which will be allowed to operate as it appeals TfL’s decision.

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