Bengaluru: Constantly being annoyed by the unpredictable cab fares and drivers who do not know how to use GPS? Well, worry not. In a month, you can expect to see the smooth functioning of cabs as the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday cleared the air and put an end to all your ambiguities.
The HC has ratified the state government’s rights to frame guidelines for online cab aggregators, while raising concerns over passengers’ security, pricing and permits limits and drivers’ understanding of the local dynamics.
The majority of the regulations upheld by the HC indicate that cab aggregators should implement a panic button, display ‘TAXI’ boards atop the vehicles, allow drivers to work for eight hours on working days, and exclude All India Tourist vehicles from plying as cabs.
The US-based taxi-hailing company, Uber, had earlier questioned the state’s authority to frame the rules and the legality around it. However, it was rejected by the HC. Under the Union government’s Motor Vehicle Act, 1988, Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rule, 2016, the state government has rolled out these regulations.
“In the recent past, many cab companies were overcharging their customers on the pretext of surge pricing, which severely affected customers and impacted the growth of the sector,” group chief executive of Meru Cab Company, Siddarth Pahwa, told Deccan Chronicle.
However, Mr Pahwa said that the new draft regulations have effectively tackled issues associated with pricing and permits. He believed that the Karnataka’s taxi regulations foster “level playing field for all taxi operators and aggregators” in the state, while ensuring safety of passengers.
“Since the government has asked cab aggregators to maintain uniformity in pricing, it is going to encourage fair competition and people will opt for those companies that provide best services,” he said.
The cab aggregators can, however, charge prices lower than the standard price to set price wars and get more customers on their side. They are not allowed to overcharge.
In case of emergency, hit the panic button
Bengaluru: With cases of cab drivers harassing passengers increasing in the city, the safety measures taken by the state government to protect passengers are a “welcome change”.
Renowned lawyer, educationist, and a women’s rights activist, Pramila Nesargi, said, “Any method introduced by the government that ensures the security of the citizen is always welcome. Despite some companies challenging the rules formulated by the state government, now, the HC has mandated them. I as a citizen of Bengaluru welcome the newly framed rules and appreciate their decision to include safety measures in the form of panic button”
“Panic button can act as a great add-on to the app. It will increase my confidence in terms of safety and security,” said Pavithra Shrinivas, an employee of Vodafone.
However, women are concerned about how the panic button is going to help them. “I am not sure about the implementation of panic button. They should not only insert a panic button on their apps, but also make sure that we are rescued at the right time, in case of an emergency,” said Rachana Hemanth of M.S. Ramaiah Institute of Technology.
She also said that as a student living on her pocket money, she could never afford to take a cab as the companies would burn a hole in her pocket in the name of surge pricing.
“I appreciate the government’s decision to ban surge pricing,” Rachana added.
Sukriti Das, who has been working in the city for the past three years, said that, “I am a little confused as to how the panic button will work.”