SoftBank funded ride-hailing app Ola on Tuesday said it has expanded to the UK, opening another front against Uber. The move comes six months after the Bengaluru-based company launched operations in Australia. UK is considered to be a competitive market with a number of taxi apps including Uber and Gett as well as traditional black cabs.
In an effort to differentiate, Ola said it will allow both private hire vehicles and black cabs on its platform, the first ride-hailing app to do so. “Ola has obtained licences to operate in South Wales and Greater Manchester, and will launch operations in South Wales within the next month,” a company press release said.
Ola is already battling Uber in Australia, a market it entered in February and now operates in seven cities with 40,000 drivers. Uber has presence in 70 countries, nearly double its closest rival China’s Didi Didi Chuxing.
In UK, black cabs drivers have been protesting against Uber, since it began operations in 2012, saying the company does not adhere to the same rules that they have to. Uber recently lost its license to operate in London before a court case overturned the ruling.
London has a strict attitude toward new ride-hailing entrants compared to regional cities. An employment court ruled in October 2016 that Uber broke the law by not providing two drivers with certain benefits. The San Francisco-based company’s licence was revoked on the grounds of failure to report “serious criminal offences” by its drivers and its use of surreptitious tracking technology, among other things. The order has since been overturned.
Ola said that it is working with local authorities to expand its services nationwide by the end of 2018. It would offer industry-leading commissions and daily payments to drivers, take note of passenger safety with screened drivers and a 24/7 voice support, options to share details with emergency contacts.
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