The Karnataka Transport Department has issued a notice to stop services of all aggregator-run autos like Ola, Uber, and Rapido in Bengaluru for the next three days and asked for a report on surging ride prices.
The department has called the auto services run by the cab aggregators ‘illegal’ under On-Demand Transportation Technology Act 2016.
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“As per the provisions under On-Demand Transportation Technology Act 2016 aggregators are given license to provide taxi services only, taxi means a motor cab having a seating capacity not exceeding 6 passengers excluding the driver with public service permit on contract", said the transport commissioner THM Kumar in a notice issued on Thursday.
Therefore, the provision of autorickshaw service under the same service has been directed to be discontinued, he said.
It has come to the attention of the department that the customers are being charged higher rates than the rates fixed by the government, the notice said.
In fact, The Competition Commission of India (CCI) too on September 9 said that Indian cab aggregators (CAs) like Ola, Uber, and Meru have to formulate clear and transparent policies with respect to the sharing of revenue on account of surge pricing between the drivers and the CAs.
The government of India issued a new set of guidelines for cab aggregators in November 2020 wherein it recommended that the surge pricing at busy times can be a maximum of 1.5 times the base fare.
The authorities Last year, the authorities fixed Rs 30 as the basic fare (for the first two kilometers) and Rs 15 for subsequent kilometers.
However, post the surge in petrol and diesel prices and due to the overall inflation effect cab aggregators had moved the base fare from around Rs 50-60 to Rs 100-115 in the last 6-8 months.
"The companies should submit an explanation about illegal autorickshaw operation, you are advised to submit it within 3 days. If not, legal action will be taken," the notice by the transport department said.
Auto and bike aggregator Rapido responded to Moneycontrol's queries and said that none of its operations in the city is illegal.
"We have received a notice from the Road Transport Authority, and we will be responding to it within the stipulated time," said Rapido's spokesperson.
The allegations being made regarding extra money charged by Rapido on auto taxi fares are completely false. All our fares are determined in accordance with the fares decided upon by the state government, and Rapido is not charging any extra money over those fares, the person quoted above said.
Clarifying whether the company will halt services, Rapido said that it will continue its operations.
"Rapido will continue operating in Bengaluru under the ambit of the law. Any false allegations levied on our auto taxi services in Bengaluru are not only irrational but also inhumane, as they jeopardize the convenient daily commute of thousands of citizens and risk the livelihoods of our captains, who rely on us for their daily income," Rapido said.
Uber and Ola declined to comment.