After talks with the state government, app-based cab operators such as Ola and Uber have agreed to limit their surge pricing at 45 per cent of the base fare, said a statement issued by the transport department on Friday. “They have agreed to limit surge charges as proposed by our government. Commuters will be able to enjoy this new fare from July 20,” a senior transport department official told The Indian Express.
The move comes days after The Indian Express reported that the state government had entered into talks with the operators to limit surge pricing, even when demand is high. The transport department had proposed that the rate for AC taxis should be considered the base fare for app cabs. Currently, the base fare for an AC cab is Rs 18.75 per km. The statement issued by the transport department reads, “On July 13th, the two companies Ola and Uber informed the Transport Department through separate letters about the changes they propose to bring about in their pricing patterns in an aftermath of the meeting with the Minister-in-charge, Transport Department. Both the companies have agreed to work with the government for regulating the dynamic fares charged by the cabs using their platform in Kolkata.”
The government had decided to call a meeting with the app-based cab operators after receiving regular complaints about skyrocketing prices. On July 4, the app-based cab operators had held a two-and-a-half hour long meeting with government officials in the presence of state Transport Minister Suvendu Adhikari. The meeting was called after the government had sent a letter to the operators on June 30, seeking details of their fare policies. The department had raised questions on surges in pricing during natural calamities, when commuters have no other option.
“Ola and Uber will submit monthly compliance reports with aggregated data to the transport department, which will evaluate the scenario within three months or sooner based on data. Ola and Uber have since been advised to implement this new policy of pricing for the cabs operated by them with effect from July 20,” said an official. Sources said the companies will also limit the total number of rides that will be fall under such dynamic pricing to 25 per cent of the total rides in a month.
Meanwhile, the companies have also requested the transport department to issue new permits for commercial cars and bike taxis in order to increase the supply of commercial vehicles, in the interest of sustaining the price policy. The transport department has agreed to consider the same.
While Ola and Uber are yet to release official statements concerning this move, an Ola spokesperson said, “In the mission to build mobility for a billion people, we have always endeavoured to operate an equitable marketplace. This ensures fair earnings for driver partners while keeping rides affordable for customers through multiple categories and offers. We have been and will continue to abide by the directions of the transport department and government. We will continue to strengthen the Ola platform and maintain a fair price policy for the entire ecosystem.”