Ola will begin its operation in the UK next month, after having obtained licenses for South Wales and Greater Manchester. The company will offer Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs) and Black Cabs to start with, but says it will add other options later on, without mentioning the timeline. It says that it will expand across the UK by the end of 2018.
Surprisingly, Ola is offering “introductory” commission rates of 10% for PHVs and 5% for metered taxis. In Australia, Ola offered to take a commission of 7.5% in one of the states. This is a stark contrast to its commission rates in India, which range between 20-30%. While it has clarified that this is an “introductory offer”, Ola has not mentioned what the actual commission will be after this offer expires.
Features of Ola cabs in the UK: Ola says it will conduct Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) screening its drivers, offer 24/7 voice support, options to share ride details with emergency contacts and an emergency feature, possibly in the form of an SOS button.
UK’s regulation of app-based cabs
The UK has a strict set rules for app-based cab services. In London last year, Uber’s license was suspended for demonstrating lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications. However, Uber got its license back recently, albeit on a probation period of 15 months.
Besides that, critics from the UK believe that the app-based cab companies “unfairly skews competition and that it has not done enough to crack down on incidents of violence involving drivers,” according to this Independent report. Yesterday, the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association (LTDA) and 11 other organisations in London will be filing a case against Uber. “The LTDA claims its drivers, who have average annual earnings of £50,000, have each lost £10,000 a year since Uber began operating in London in 2012,” the report adds.
Ola’s international expansion
Earlier this year, Ola launched in Australia, where it now operates in seven major cities. Besides that Ola has been looking at expansion in other counties such as New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh and has teams in Dhaka and Colombo. However, its teams in Sri Lanka attracted a trouble, as the company has already been accused of “commercial espionage” by its competitor PickMe.