London’s transport agency has given India’s Ola the green light to launch its ride-hailing service in the UK capital, as competition for Uber intensifies in one of the world’s largest taxi markets.
Ola said on Thursday that it had received a private hire vehicle licence from Transport for London and planned to launch its service around September.
The move follows the arrival of several new challengers to Uber and London’s traditional black cabs over the past year, including Kapten, ViaVan and Bolt.
“London is one of the world’s most iconic cities and hosts a progressive mobility environment,” an Ola spokesperson said. “We are looking forward to building world-class mobility offerings for London, by collaborating with drivers, riders, the government and local authorities.”
Ola, which like Uber counts SoftBank among its largest investors, has raised a total of $3.8bn since it was founded in 2011. After several years of focusing on its home market in India, it is now expanding abroad into Australia and New Zealand. In the UK, it has launched in several smaller cities before heading to the capital.
Ola now has more than 1.5m drivers around the world, including around 10,000 in the UK since it first launched in Cardiff last August. It has subsequently launched in parts of Liverpool, Birmingham, Reading, Bath and Bristol, adding to its global footprint of more than 150 cities.
As with other ride-hailing services, TfL’s licence allows Ola to operate for 15 months before it has to seek a renewal in October 2020.
This year, Uber integrated London’s public transport data into its main app and it has recently launched its Jump electric bikes in the capital, as it seeks to become a one-stop shop for all kinds of transportation.
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