The Karnataka transport department has issued a notice to cab aggregator services Ola and Uber and bike taxi aggregator Rapido after several passengers complained of surge pricing by autorickshaws operating under these platforms. In its circular issued Thursday, the transport department has pulled up the aggregators for offering autorickshaw rides without licence and has given them three days to stop offering the service on their apps.
The department said cab aggregators and vehicle owners will henceforth be booked if they are found to be violating the government order.
A senior transport official said, “The surge pricing by apps has always been under the scanner of the transport department. Despite repeated warnings, cab aggregators have not mended their ways. After a meeting on Thursday, we have decided to deem autorickshaw facilities offered by cab aggregators as illegal.”
The decision comes after passengers complained that the apps were charging a minimum of Rs 100 for autorickshaw rides as against the cap of Rs 30. As per government rules, autorickshaws should charge a minimum price of Rs 30 for the first two kilometres and Rs 15 for every subsequent kilometre.
The circular has also pointed out that cab aggregators are given licence to offer cab services only. It defined cab services as ‘motor-cab having a seating capacity not exceeding six passengers excluding the driver with public service permit or contract’.
M Manjunath, president of Adarsha Auto and Taxi Driver’s Union, Bengaluru and Mysore, said, “We are not addicted to Ola/Uber like the customers are. We can switch to our normal journey and charge customers as per the meters. But both the government and the cab companies are devastating the lives of auto drivers for several years now. The cab companies do not pay our incentives nor do we get the benefit of any surge pricing. Meanwhile, all auto drivers are demanding that the transport department start offering auto services, but they are not paying heed to our demands. A lot of these policy issues are resulting in a bad name to drivers and impacting their livelihoods.”
Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya had recently written to Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai and transport minister B Sriramalu stating, “Autorickshaws are backbone of first and last-mile connectivity in Bengaluru. We received many complaints recently regarding tech aggregators charging Rs 100 as minimum charge against the fixed limit of Rs 30. I request the government to take necessary action against those entities acting against government rules and regulations.”