Uber competitor launches in London (again)

Previous attempt failed in 2017

By Brittany Gibson, CNN Business
KTXL via CNN

(CNN) - Uber is facing a new competitor on the roads of London.

A ride-hailing startup called Bolt launched Tuesday in the British capital after receiving an operating license from Transport for London.

It's the second time that Bolt, which used to be called Taxify, has tried to go head-to-head with Uber in London. A previous attempt failed in 2017 when transportation regulators declined to give the startup a license.

London is a big prize. It's one of five global cities that account for nearly a quarter of Uber's bookings, according to its prospectus from April. Uber currently has a stranglehold on the market.

Bolt CEO Markus Villiq said in a statement on Tuesday that his company will give Londoners an alternative to the American company.

The startup, which was founded in Estonia, has powerful backers including German carmaker Daimler. It's been granted a license to operate in London for the next 15 months.

Shorter licenses — counted in months, not years — are the new policy standard for ride apps, according to Transport for London.

Transport for London gave Uber a shock in 2017 when it declined to renew its license, saying the company was not "fit and proper." Uber appealed the decision and was later granted a 15-month license.

In addition to Uber, Bolt will compete in London against car service company Addison Lee and a handful of other ride-hailing startups. Bolt already operates across eastern Europe and in Africa.

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