The tussle between black and yellow taxis operators and major app-based cab aggregators in Mumbai, that has been going on for over four years now, took a new turn on Friday as the Bombay High Court cracked down on Ola and Uber drivers. A division bench comprising Justices RM Sawant and Sadhana Jadhav heard petitions challenging new rules that state that app-based cab drivers cannot ply on Mumbai roads with a national tourist permit, and would require a local permit instead.
The petition was filed by six drivers plying cabs with the two major companies, Ola and Uber, according to PTI. The petition also said that "obtaining local permits will cost private taxi drivers and owners 10 times more than what it costs the drivers of black and yellow taxis."
This petition comes after a long-standing dispute between Ola, Uber and Mumbai's local Kaali Peeli taxis. Both sides have complained throughout the length of this legal battle regarding the issues faced by their drivers in the city.
Mumbai's taxi union leader AL Quadros had said in a Hindustan Times report in May that "Ola and Uber companies have been cheating the public by charging Rs 55 base fare plus Rs six per kilometre fare and Rs one per minute duration charge along with 14 percent service charge during lean hours. During peak hours, the app-based aggregators charge two to three times the usual fare amount."
In the report, the Mumbai taxi union demanded that the Hakim committee, the existing arrangement for cabs in the city, formula be kept unchanged for autos. They also asked that auto rickshaws be allowed to ply on the island city.
The government, to ensure a balance between both the taxi's and app drivers, appointed a panel led by BC Khatua in 2016, asking it to set maximum and minimum fares of taxis and autos. A report by Hindustan Times said that the government extended the scope of the report and asked for fare suggestions for cabs and electric taxis – the deadline for this was set for 30 June.
Transport department sources said that the recommendations by this committee will ensure that the Kaali Peeli (black and yellow) taxis and aggregator cabs like Ola, Uber have a "level playing" field.
An official quoted in a Times of India report, said, "The panel will finalise minimum fares for all taxis/cabs and cap surge pricing in Mumbai. It will ensure drivers earn a decent income and end refusals for short trips. In some cities, the minimum fare is for two kilometres, which encourages drivers to accept short trips."
The report also said that the recommendations will be announced by the end of the month.
The official said that the department will consider discounted fares for long-distance routes. A telescopic fare chart, where the amount decreases as distance increases, had been suggested by some commuter rights groups, including Mumbai Grahak Panchayat.
"The panel is also checking the possibility of happy hours travel in Kaali Peelis, that is discounted fares for non-peak (afternoon) hours," said Justice Jadhav in the report by the Times of India.
Justice Jadhav pointed out that if the black and yellow taxis provide good facilities then people would not prefer Uber and Ola. The panel may then direct cabbies to maintain their vehicles well, dress properly and be polite, besides ensuring reliability and safety. Online money transactions and take away receipts are also being planned to improve user experience in the state taxis.
Updated Date: Jul 03, 2017 16:08 PM