The government of Delhi becomes the second state government after Gujarat set out to pass strict guidelines for cab aggregators like Ola and Uber.
According to the rules in the draft, app-based cab aggregators have to get a license from the transportation authority to be eligible for operation. The company has to share live GPS data for all cabs to the transport department.
For passengers, a driver cannot refuse a ride or discriminate on the basis of gender, race, religion, caste, or disability. Moreover, the company has to maintain a 24×7 call center.
Keeping in mind the safety issues that have crept up in past with cab aggregators, especially in the capital, the government has decided that there has to be a safety measure in the app that allows passengers to share the live location status and cab details with at least 2 people.
A “panic button” feature is required where the usage alerts the company call center and the local police at the same time. And in case of sexual harassment, the aggregator has to file a complaint with the police, otherwise, a fine of Rs 1 lakh will be levied on each case. A firewall to prevent the breach of privacy is also recommended.
A person convicted for driving under influence of drugs or alcohol within the past 7 years will not be allowed to drive. And there is an appeal by the government to cab aggregators for hiring more female drivers.
To regulate surge pricing, the transport authority will fix minimum and maximum fares, and charging anything below or above those is liable for a fine of Rs 25,000, reports TOI.
Finally, the app must display the driver’s picture, description of the vehicle and should have a minimum 6 inch GPS screen to display a real-time location of the cab.
In Gujarat, the aggregators are expected to be put under a cap where each of them will not be allowed to operate more than 20,000 fleets a day, and to operate more than 10,000 fleets they have to pay total Rs 35 lakh to the transport authority for license and security deposit. This was in order to maintain the traffic on the roads.
What it all means
Ola and Uber, with respect to the rules drafted by the Delhi government, already follow the rules like driver’s photograph, cab details, GPS screen. Ola has an emergency button which it will have to link with the local police, and Uber has the ride detail sharing safety feature.
The surge pricing regulation and the denial of rights to refuse a ride for drivers is going to be a breather to the passengers. But at the same time, it will be an unattractive feature for the drivers and the aggregators.
Sharing the live data of all cabs with the government might increase the transparency of the operation but it will also increase the surveillance for a passenger.
As the rules are tending to favour of the passengers, it is likely to create a disrupt in the driver community, and also lead to a significant expense for the cab aggregators (especially apart from Ola and Uber).
Unlike Gujarat, the rules do not seem to be targeting the traffic or the pollution problem in Delhi NCR, which is a major menace for the region.
Overall, the changes in operation proposed by the government are rather small and obvious, and for a city like Delhi, it is likely to have only moderate implications. However, the guideline manual still has a scope for a lot more issues to be targeted and attempted to be resolved.
Further, it remains to be seen how the drivers and the aggregators react to this proposal, what are the final guidelines that are laid down, how much implementation is executed, and what impact all these rules make on the companies’ performances.