New taxi service dubbed 'Indian Uber' heading to Wolverhampton
Taxi drivers in the city are already locked in a long-standing row with Wolverhampton Council over its cheap licences
An Indian ride-sharing giant has been given a licence to operate in Wolverhampton in a move that threatens to spark a fresh row with frustrated taxi drivers in the city.
Ola, which has been dubbed the Indian Uber, has been given the nod to launch in the city.
Furious taxi firms have already hit out at council bosses over cheap licences which have led to drivers flooding to the city.
City council bosses said the company had met conditions for acquiring a licence but there are fears the move could lead to yet more taxis heading into the city centre, impacting on local firms.
Ola works similarly to Uber, in that customers hail cabs through an app on their phones.
The company was founded in 2010 and is considered to be one of the main rivals to Uber.
A Wolverhampton Council spokesman said: “The chair of licensing committee and the Licensing Manger met with OLA and stipulated the standards and requirements that City of Wolverhampton Council expects of its licensed operators.
“Ola submitted an application for a private hire operator’s licence which was considered in accordance with our guidelines and the application was subsequently granted for an initial one-year period.”
Steven Toy, a driver with Chase Cars and former chairman of the Private Hire Association, said: “It could lead to an increase in competition in the market and if Ola function anything like Uber it won’t necessarily just be Wolverhampton they are working in but also elsewhere in the West Midlands conurbation.
“The competition could also drive down fares and mean drivers working even longer hours.”
It follows concerns from Staffordshire County Council that Wolverhampton’s lax policy on taxi licences could potentially be putting passengers at risk.
Licence applications in the city have soared by more than 10 times to 9,000 due to lower charges.
Ola launched its first overseas operation earlier this year when it hit the streets of Perth, Australia, with further plans to launch in Sydney and also Melbourne.
It then launched its first UK service in South Wales last month and is also trying to obtain a licence to operate in Greater Manchester.