Update: Dr Ramegowda, Bangalore’s Commissioner for Transport & Road Safety, told MediaNama in a phone conversation that online cab aggregator companies have not yet submitted the proper documents (to obtain a license). He said, “I’ve had a meeting with them yesterday and today, and the companies have agreed to submit documents related to drivers and the company, but documents like police verification and security measures have not been submitted yet. Ola has submitted documents for 100 cabs, while Uber has provided 129 documents for verification. We’re processing these, let’s see…”
Earlier today: Karnataka’s transport department has ordered Uber and Ola suspend operations in the state since they have not acquired licenses to run cab services, Times of India reported. The notice comes after the department had reportedly seized 60 vehicles belonging to Ola and Uber near Bangalore airport roads last week.
MediaNama has written to both Ola and Uber for a statement and will update the story as soon as we hear from them. We weren’t able to find a copy of the circular online.
According to the report, the circular mentioned that many aggregators have not obtained licenses from the transport department and are continuing to operate un-licensed cabs. The notice has also warned companies of “strict actions” in case of non-compliance with the new rules.
The New Rules
Last month, the Karnataka government had banned surge pricing and mandated the requirement of a license for cab aggregators under the new Karnataka On Demand Transportation Technology Aggregator Rules, 2016. At the time, multiple cab operators like Uber, Ola, Meru, Mega, Bangalore Taxi etc were operating under an earlier Radio Taxi Scheme and not the ‘Karnataka On Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016’.
No licenses acquired
Last week when Karnataka authorities seized vehicles for non-compliance to licensing terms, an Uber spokesperson told us that the company has in fact applied for a license under the new rules and the “required inspection by the Transport Department was initiated.” At that time, the authorities had reportedly sent two-notices to aggregators to stop operations.
“We are sharing all necessary paperwork required by the Transport Department and are awaiting our license. Meanwhile, we are in talks with the RTO regarding the ongoing enforcement drive and are hopeful of a quick resolution,” added the company.
Cabs seized in Karnataka for surge pricing
Last month, The Karnataka government had seized cars from online cab aggregators Ola and Uber for charging their users over the government decided rate of Rs 19.5/km. At least 30 cabs belonging to Uber and Ola were seized in Bangalore limits by officials for implementing surge pricing.
At that time, Last week, Uber put up a blog post explaining the need for surge pricing, stating that surge pricing allows users to get cabs even on a busy day. The company alos stated that ‘nearly all’ of surge pricing profits go to the drivers as part of their fares.
Ola and Uber Zones in Bangalore Airport
Elsewhere in the same sate, both Uber and Ola had reportedly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Kempegowda International Airport Bangalore to set up a dedicated parking area and pick up zone for its drivers and passengers. This comes as a clear discrepancy of policies regarding cabs aggregators between two authorities: The transport department has been seizing vehicles and issuing notices, while Bangalore airport authorities have been partnering with aggregators to increase the availability of cabs in airport premises.
However, a Hindu report stated that Bangalore airport (BIAL) officials refused to comment about Ola and Uber’s designated car and parking zones at the airport and said that the companies hadn’t signed any agreements with the airport. The report also added that the companies had only been given parking space in the airport premises. MediaNama’s phone calls to BIAL went unanswered.