Uber is about to get another major competitor in the UK in the form of Ola, an Indian-based ride-hailing app.
The service will initially launch in South Wales where it’ll cover the areas of Cardiff, Newport and the Vale of Glamorgan. It also has plans to launch in Greater Manchester once it obtains the licenses to operate.
Ola might be a newcomer to the UK but it’s certainly not a newcomer elsewhere in the world. The service has around 125 million users across the world and already operates in India and Australia.
Unlike Uber, Ola offers users the ability to request both private hire vehicles and conventional black cabs, hopefully appeasing two sides of an industry that have traditionally been at loggerheads.
The company is also hoping to differentiate itself from rivals by focusing heavily on its safety features. In addition to a driver screening process Ola will offer 24/7 voice support for riders and give them the ability to instantly share rides with emergency contacts or the emergency services.
Ben Legg, Managing Director of Ola UK, said: “This is an exciting moment for everyone at Ola and we are very pleased that south Wales is where we will be starting our UK journey...We are determined to do a great job for the community and work closely with local authorities to help with their mobility goals.”
Ola will be the first major taxi-hailing competitor to Uber, which claims to have over 3 million drivers and operates in 65 countries across the world.
Despite its popularity in London, Uber has faced increasing criticism both from black cab drivers in the capital and from TfL who actually suspended the company’s licence to operate after “public safety and security implications” over the way it operates.
Uber has since been granted a 15-month “probation” licence which allows it to continue operating but under some extremely strict conditions.
In May the company lost its licence in Brighton after the local council found that the company was not “fit and proper” to operate within the city.