Following driver protests in Bangalore earlier this week, Ola Share and UberPOOL are now under the scanner from the Karnataka State Transport Commissioner who termed the services illegal as they are violating the norms of their contract permit, reports The Hindu.
Transport Commissioner MK Aiyappa said that contract permit only allows for picking and dropping from start to destination with no stops in the middle during a single trip. Ola Share and UberPOOL rides are permissible under the stage carriage permit that allows companies to charge based on stages of a trip. The Economic Times added that Ola and Uber would not face action over the next four days and that the commissioner would listen to the representatives of the cab aggregators on Monday.
A spokesperson for Ola declined to comment on the issue. Uber sent the following statement:
“We believe UberPOOL is clearly within the law. We will continue to engage with the transport department and Karnataka government as ridesharing products like uberPOOL are the future of urban mobility, helping decongest cities by getting more people into fewer cars and letting riders move around their city more affordably.
With the cost of shared rides upto 50% less than traveling solo, response to uberPOOL in Bangalore has been phenomenal. More than 25% of our total trips in the city are POOL trips. Over the last year – UberPOOL riders in Bengaluru have contributed to save around 9364772 kilometres driven, which equals to saving of 440623 litres of fuel and cut over 1,037,000 kgs of CO2 emissions.”
Note that UberPOOl accounts for 20% of rides in Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Chennai. Meanwhile, Ola has introduced a new service in Bangalore called Share Express which allows fixed-route carpooling.
Ola had also launched its own Shuttle service back in September 2015 in Bangalore and Gurgaon, but was later suspended in Gurgaon (along with Shuttl) due to regulatory troubles . The Ola Shuttle service does not show up on the app anymore in Bangalore city limits.
At present, only the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses have a stage carriage permit in the city and enjoy a monopoly over bus services in the city. The BMTC is also protected under the Road Transport Corporation Act, 1950 do not allow private operators to set up competing services, as indicated by this Times of India report.
The Hindu report also added that the Commissioner directed Ola and Uber to settle driver issues amicably. Some Ola and Uber drivers were on strike earlier this week and were protesting the commissions charged by the companies, low wages and the mandatory number of trips a driver had to make in a day.
Uber had sent the following statement:
We strive to be a mobility option for everyone in Bengaluru and we regret the disruption caused to our rider and driver community by a small group of individuals. We remain committed to serving the city, ensuring driver partners can continue to access a stable income, while giving riders a convenient, reliable option to get around their city.