As app-based taxi services become more mainstream, local governments are turning their attention towards it. Reports suggest that the Maharashtra government is keen to fix the minimum and maximum fares for Ola and Uber going ahead. For the purpose, it has appointed a committee that has submitted a comprehensive report with recommendations to the Bombay High Court. This comes in the wake of several petitions filed by Ola and Uber drivers who have challenged the Maharashtra City Taxi Rule. Also Read - Ola to offer free oxygen concentrators to the needyAlso Read - Ola India set to launch first electric scooter in 2021
Their main allegation is that the city taxi rules are arbitrary and go against organized taxi operators. “According to the rules, app-based taxis will not be allowed to ply within the Mumbai Metropolitan Region on a national tourist permit. The drivers will have to obtain local permits and will not be allowed to ply on their national tourist permits. Obtaining local permits will cost private taxi drivers and owners ten times more than what it costs the drivers of black-and-yellow taxis,” the the drivers wrote in their petition. Also Read - Uber cab service resumed in 31 cities in India with new Lockdown 4.0 guidelines
According to the recommendation made by the Maharashtra government, the minimum starting fare for Ola, Uber and other app-based taxi services has been fixed at Rs 14, and the maximum at Rs 38. The committee has also proposed a cap on surge pricing that is uncontrollable during events like festivals or floods.
These recommendations are in addition to the draft City Taxi Rules made last year, which in fact, was opposed by Uber. It had asked for an “open pricing regime” where there would be no upper limits on fares that taxi operators can charge their riders. “A price floor will prevent us from offering affordable services and a cap on pricing will make the service unreliable due to higher wait times,” Uber India had said in its letter to the government in 2016.
The Maharashtra government, however, reckons that it is necessary to regulate app-based taxis and prevent them from being “predatory”, “monopolistic” and “exploitative” in their offerings. Incidentally, they have also made recommendations to revise the fare structure for black-and-yellow taxis (kaali-peelis) and auto rickshaws. Mumbai has around 1.4 lakh auto rickshaws, while another 1.94 lakh ply in the metropolitan area beyond Mumbai. Over 0.5 lakh kaali-peelis operate as well. It is left to be seen what comes out of the reccos!