Ride-hailing platform Ola launched its services in London on Monday where arch-rival Uber Technologies could be banned after local taxi regulator Transport for London (TfL) declined to renew its licence in November over safety concerns.
The SoftBank-backed Ola said it has partnered with DriveTech, a part of the British motoring association AA; HR consulting firm Mercer; and education company Pearson in the English capital. The company already has 25,000 drivers registered on the platform, it said in a blog posted on its website.
“This is a major milestone for our business and represents the next step in our ambitions to connect people in cities throughout the country. We are proud of the progress Ola has made in the U.K. and we look forward to building on our success by offering a differentiated service to Londoners, focussed on quality, safety, and reliability,” said Simon Smith, head, Ola International.
Bengaluru-headquartered Ola said DriveTech will help the Indian company improve the skills and knowledge of all drivers on Ola in London with their driving risk assessment. The drivers have completed a risk assessment and are given complimentary e-learning modules to further accelerate their professional development. On completing these modules, they will receive a DriveTech Permit to Drive, attesting to their skills, the company said.
The drivers have also passed the Versant spoken English test, from education experts Pearson, the company said.
“A big moment for all of us @Olacabs @OlainUK as we go live in #London! As a homegrown brand, this is a transformative event for all of us. We are excited to bring a differentiated mobility experience and welcome Londoners to #RideTheChange,” tweeted founder Bhavish Aggarwal.
The company also said it is launching its flagship global safety feature, ‘Guardian’, which uses artificial intelligence and machine learning to automatically detect irregular vehicle activity, a ‘Start Code’ feature to ensure customers and drivers are correctly matched, 24/7 voice support for riders and drivers, and a cap of six penalty points for drivers on its platform, the company said.
Meanwhile, while announcing its quarterly results last week, Uber said it will continue to operate in London as it appeals to TfL’s decision to not renew its licence. “We also plan to roll out additional systems to strengthen identity confirmation of drivers, including a facial matching process, which we believe are the most robust in the industry,” Uber said.
Ola is present in more than 250 cities across India, the U.K., Australia, and New Zealand. It launched in the U.K. in August 2018 with operations in Cardiff, expanding to towns and cities across the U.K., covering a total of 27 local authorities, the company said.