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Why Karnataka’s cab aggregator rules are good, bad and ambiguous

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While the Karnataka government seeks suggestions and objections from companies and people on its newly released draft titled ‘Karnataka On Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016’, we take a closer look (with MediaNama’s take) at the guidelines to dissect the good, bad and ambiguous. Let us know what you think about these in the comments.

The good:

No cap on taxi number: The applicant should have a minimum of of either 100 taxis owned or in agreement with individual taxi permit holders.

– The panic button should be capable of alerting the control room without any interference or hindrance from the driver. The government does not define the nature of the alert.

New vehicles: The vehicle should not be more than 2 years old at the time of induction and vehicles older than 6 years old cannot be used.

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– The driver should have a minimum driving experience of 2 years (although its not clear how their experience will be measured.)

– Licensee should ensure that all taxis should maintain uninterrupted contact with the control room, which should be able to monitor the movements of all vehicles in their fleet. No definition of the control room or why this is necessary. However, we imagine that the driver should be able to contact the company without any issues or hurdles.

– Provide the government a list of drivers, license numbers, vehicle registration numbers etc. on a quarterly basis. (Accountability FTW!)

Annual leaves for drivers: For adults: 1 day for every 20 days of work in the previous year and adolescents: 1 day for every 15 days of work in the previous year. Discharged or dismissed drivers will be entitled to leave with wages.

– The fare cannot be higher than the one fixed by Government from time to time (even if implementing surge pricing). This made it to the good list because of consumers. Let us know if you think otherwise and why.

– Licensee should have an office and officer in charge in the area of operation. (Accountability FTW because we still live in India)

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The bad:

– Driver should be a resident of Karnataka for a minimum of 5 years. This shouldn’t be necessary.

– Driver should have a working knowledge of Kannada and any other language, preferably English. There will be a lot of mixed opinion on this, but on the surface, this appears to cause discrimination instead of trying to get rid of it. As a side, we can only think it best if both the driver and the passenger took the effort to get to know what the other person is saying without getting agitated, no matter what language the other person spoke in. For everything else, there’s always maps.

– The vehicle should have a small feedback register kept in the taxi, easily accessible to passengers. This is especially bad because exposing user details to drivers against whom complaints are being launched is never a good way to document the problem. Instead, it would be nice to have a web portal to launch complaints on that both the company and the government can access.

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Ambiguous:

– Profile of aggregator: Applicant shall comply with all rules and regulations under the Motor Vehicle Act and the Information Technology Act, 2000.

– The applicant has to have a control room facility. (no further details)

– Licensee cannot shift their office without written permission from the Karnataka STA. Sure they can, isn’t it a free country? What is unnecessary, in our opinion, is taking permission. Yes, the government should be notified of the office move, say 1-2 months in advance and get to know all the details about where the new office is.

– Licensee should maintain digital records of all taxies at their control on a daily basis, trips operated by each vehicle, details of passengers who travelled in the vehicle, origin and destination and fare collected. These records should be open for inspection any time. They should also submit quarterly returns on or before 10th of the succeeding month (we assume on acquiring a license) with all details. Again, user privacy is violated when so much personal data goes at the hands of the government. (The argument ‘why is the company collecting this data okay?’ is invalid because when I am using the service, I am signing up with their terms and conditions.)

– They should be allowed to work a maximum number of hours under the Motor Transport Workers Act 1961. It doesn’t say the actual number of hours.

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– Licensee should maintain a web portal with details of vehicle owners, registered addresses, services offered, services offered, fare structure, insurance liabilities, control room number, name, contact details of grievance redressal officer. This seems like a redundant move.

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Let us know your opinions in the comments below.

Written By

I'm a MediaNama alumna from 2015-16 (remember TinyOwl?) now back to cover e-services like food and grocery delivery, app based transport and policies, platforms and media in India.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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