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Bengaluru gig workers, taxi drivers demand ban on commercial carpooling services

The Karnataka government has announced restrictions on commercial carpooling using whiteboard vehicles, sparking confusion and debates.

What’s the news: After ride aggregators, carpooling services are facing the heat in Bengaluru, with the Karnataka government announcing a ban on the use of whiteboard vehicles for commercial commute purposes. In an interview with News18, Karnataka’s Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy clarified that while there is no government order prohibiting carpooling in the state capital, action will be taken against aggregators who operate carpooling apps as a commercial venture. The decision comes after a strike observed by taxi driver associations against such services.


Gig workers support restrictions on carpooling services: While Reddy had later clarified that there was no ‘ban’ on carpooling itself, the initial announcement caused considerable confusion, with MPs like Tejasvi Surya voicing road congestion concerns and asking that such services be allowed.

Interestingly, rather than the government, Shaik Salauddin, General Secretary of the Indian Federation of App Based Transport Workers (IFAT) responded to Surya’s tweet. Speaking on behalf of the organisation, he said:

“We want to tell the MP Tejasvi Surya that private vehicles operating for commercial purposes is illegal and unethical. Promoting services of carpooling apps who are bypassing payment to the state exchequer, and flouting state rules for operating ride hailing/sharing services is wrong. Telangana Gig and Platform Workers Union (TGPWU) and Indian Federation of App based Transport Workers (IFAT) speaking for ride hailing and sharing drivers of India want you to understand that the commercial drivers who are paying the road tax, getting the necessary permits to keep the passengers safe are being outplaced by these carpooling app companies. These companies are affecting the livelihood of our driver brothers and sisters. Please consider the hardworking ride hailing and sharing drivers whose lives and livelihood is transport.”

Bengaluru is a popular metropolitan area whose residents often rely on aggregator apps to hail rides without having to haggle with the driver for the fare. This makes the city a prime location for apps like Ola, Uber, as well as apps providing carpool services like Quickride, Carpool Adda, etc. The restrictions will likely affect the businesses of these apps. Moreover, considering the short-lived ban on autorickshaws in 2022, such decisions indicate the government’s growing attention towards regularizing such business ventures.

Aside from carpooling services, gig workers and taxi drivers in the city also opposed the plying of bike taxis – a demand that was submitted by the taxi drivers to the government during their strike. The same is currently under consideration as per media reports.

Note: Headline of the story was updated on October 4, 2023 at 4:10 PM for improved comprehension. 

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Written By

I'm interested in the shaping and strengthening of rights in the digital space. I cover cybersecurity, platform regulation, gig worker economy. In my free time, I'm either binge-watching an anime or off on a hike.

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