Millennium Post

After Karnataka, Delhi bans surge pricing by Ola & Uber

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, accused by critics of unfairly curtailing taxi apps Uber and Ola, has upped the ante.

In order to rein in app-based taxi services, Delhi government has decided to introduce a policy under which cab companies will be bound to charge fares to be prescribed by the Transport department. Transport Minister Gopal Rai said government has started working out modalities of the policy which will soon be made public.

“The policy will be exclusively for all the app-based taxis giving their services in the national capital. We will fix fares for them as we have done in the case of radio, economy cabs and kali-pili taxis. All app-based taxi services will be regulated through this policy,” Rai said. The Transport minister said once the new rules are laid down, app-based cab companies will be bound to follow the same.

Meanwhile, in a crackdown on app-based cab services authorities in Delhi impounded 50 more taxis for over-charging customers. “We have impounded 50 more taxis following complaints from customers. All the taxis belong to various app based cab aggregators,” a Delhi government official confirmed.

After app-based cab operator Uber blamed the Delhi government for taxi shortage, Kejriwal clarified that his government was not opposed to online aggregators but insisted they obey the law. The odd-even scheme, which ends on April 30 and is aimed at reducing the egregious air pollution in the capital, restricts cars to alternate days according to whether they carry odd or even-numbered licence plates.

The scheme began last week but its first test was on Monday, when schools and offices re-opened after a four-day-long weekend. Commuters complained angrily on social media about surge pricing - fares for taxis provided by Ola and Uber shooting up to nearly five times the standard rate. Kejriwal warned that unless taxi aggregator apps ended the practice immediately, cars would be impounded. 

Uber, in a series of tweets, has tried to explain that it does not own cars or employ drivers, but aggregates them, and that surge pricing helps ensure more drivers are available when demand peaks. “Almost all of the fare, surge or not, goes to the driver partners,” the company tweeted, adding that on Monday, reports of fleecing customers were incorrect.

Kejriwal, however, did not buy Uber’s arguments on surge pricing.
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