The State government is set to prepare new rules to regulate taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber in keeping with the new Motor Vehicle Aggregators Guidelines – 2020 brought out by the Centre on November 27.
The government had introduced the ‘Karnataka on demand transportation technology aggregators’ rules in 2016, which will be revised. “There are several new points mentioned in the Centre’s guidelines, which we will incorporate. The new set of rules is likely to come in a month or two, after deliberations,” said a senior official with the Transport Department.
The Central guidelines, for instance, state that the base price be fixed for a distance of 3 km. However, in 2018, the State government had fixed taxi fares based on the price of the vehicle, while the base fare was fixed for the first 4 km. “We have to take a call on how fares should be fixed for subsequent kilometres. A provision has been made for collecting a maximum surge charge of 1.5 times, while our rules allow up to 2x. This has to be looked into,” the official added.
Another issue that officials will have to discuss is the provision for apps to charge a cancellation fee that is 10% of the total fare not exceeding ₹100.
The State government will have to rethink its stand on pool rides, which has been a contentious issue.
While the Transport Department has been opposing pool rides on the grounds of safety of passengers especially women, the Central guidelines are in favour of them.
As per the new guidelines, aggregators may provide pooling facilities to riders whose details and KYC are available, and who shall be travelling along the same route. “Female passengers seeking to avail of ride pooling shall also be provided the option to pool only with other female passengers,” read the guidelines.
When asked about this, department officials were circumspect. “Allowing pool rides requires deliberations and various aspects need to be looked into before legally allowing pool ride,” said the official.
In the past, the department had booked cases against operators providing a platform for private cars owners using their vehicle for commercial purposes by offering carpooling services. However, the new guidelines state that to reduce traffic congestion and automobile pollution, “non-transport vehicle pooling may be provided by aggregators unless prohibited by the State government”.
Officials said they would deliberate on this but maintained that allowing non-commercial vehicles to provide such services would be a challenge when it comes to ensuring passenger safety.