by Marc Rozendal – Head of International Expansion at Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd)
At Ola, we are committed to providing the mobility solutions that are fit for this decade and beyond. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have been working hard to assess the changing landscape for mobility to ensure that as we emerge from the pandemic, Ola can provide the safety and the quality that meets the needs of our riders and drivers across the UK.
Clearly, the way in which we live and work has been altered for some months now, and as a business that interacts with our customers every day, we must understand how they live and what patterns of their behaviour have permanently shifted, as well as what areas of our lives will go back to the way they were before. The often cited example is that flexible working is here to stay, and that hybrid models of work will impact our public transport networks.
So we have had to develop and alter our services quickly to meet these new demands, while adapting to restrictions in real time, and preparing our business for a mobility future that looks very different to the one that we had become accustomed to.
Due to this, we have adapted our business in three ways based on changing mobility patterns created by the pandemic. Firstly, we recognised the shift in working patterns, but also living arrangements, that were created by the pandemic. Flexible working, with an increased focus on working from home, has meant we needed to broaden our offer to our customers. Our partnership with Gett, as well as our new business offer, Ola Corporate, helps employees travel to and from work without the need to use public transport.
In addition, the pandemic has encouraged a shift not just in working patterns but living arrangements too. Ola has a national offering and we believe that if people decide to move from cities such as London, as a business we will be well placed to provide their mobility solutions wherever they are in the country. We made a deliberate decision to launch our UK offering in towns and cities across the UK, not in London, and will continue to serve these markets where we have provided safe and reliable ride hailing services for years.
Secondly, it was clear that the public transport systems across our markets were not built with the changes that have been driven by this pandemic in mind. In particular, the pandemic exposed specific traveller anxieties around public transport safety, and demand is still depressed across many regional train and bus services.
Ola has always prioritised the safety of our riders and the communities we serve, providing an affordable alternative to public transport. This was well received at the height of the pandemic, as we offered discounted rides to key workers and played a helping hand in hard hit communities.
Moreover, a key part of our safety proposition is to ensure we have the best quality drivers. Ola has launched our Ride Safe programme, committing a sum of £20 million in the UK towards a range of initiatives to enhance safety in mobility, including new technology on our platform and vehicle standards.
Lastly, it is important that we move into the future in a spirit of collaboration between the public and private transport systems. It is clear that a public-private partnership model is required more than ever to address the challenges that are faced by traditional public transport services across the UK.
As we adapt to this new future, many of the things that have been integral to Ola since we started as a business will drive forward our future growth in the UK. We are constantly innovating, including a push into electric vehicles to ensure that in the years the come, when we grow we do so sustainably.
Partnership will be the key to success as we move into this new period for mobility solutions. Ola will continue to collaborate with local authorities around the UK to address their needs and maximise mobility in their local areas.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us that we will need to adapt and reconsider the future of mobility as we move into the decade. Ola will be at the forefront of this change, providing safe, quality rides at affordable prices to our customers across the towns and cities of the UK.