Relaxing its ban on Ola and Uber with “immediate effect”, the Madhya Pradesh government gave the two cab companies a breather on Tuesday by serving them a notice to comply with the state transport guidelines in a month’s time.
Transport minister Bhupendra Singh said both the taxi aggregators needed a city permit—and not a tourist permit—if they had to be called a public transport service.
Neither companies have a record of the vehicles under them, he told HT. “That is the second issue.”
Both cab services customarily jack up rates when demand outstrips supply. This system, called ‘peak-time charge’, is non-existent in the Motor Vehicle Act, the transport department pointed out on Tuesday—citing why it was banning Ola and Uber in the state.
“We got several complaints from users,” said Sanjay Tiwari, regional transport officer, Bhopal.
Notwithstanding the stern tone, the app-based service providers are relieved. “We are not sure if my bosses will follow the guidelines, but I now have the time for an alternative job,” said an Ola driver.
Repeated attempts by HT elicited no response from top officials of Ola and Uber.
Transport department sources said the state capital had about 650 Ola taxis and 200 Uber.
Residents are upset about the possible retreat of the two cabs. “They are a boon, especially during monsoons,” said Saba Ali, a resident of Idgah Hills.
Added Char Imli resident Jatin Tripathi: “The cost almost equals what auto-rickshaws charge.”
People in Indore, too, are upset. Prekshit Chhaparwal, for instance, hires Ola to go to office. “It saved me from hunting for a taxi,” says the resident of Chandralok society.
Indore, which is Madhya Pradesh’s most populous city, has 450 Ola and Uber cabs. They form a chunk of the market share, according to transport department sources. While Ola was launched in 2014, Uber came a year ago.
There are non-app based cab services such as Metro, Meru and Star Cab. Together, they run another 500 vehicles.
Young Ayush Gupta found driving getter tougher in traffic-heavy hours, and began booking Ola to reach his workplace. “Seems like I will now have to drive myself to work again,” he says.
Sushil Sangare, a driver with Metro, says the non-app cab services can manage the taxi shortage. “Some of my friends driving Ola are anxious about their monthly repayment of car loan,” he adds.
Flaws in service
Ola and Uber run with a tourist permit, not a city permit.
Vehicles attached to them are not in the records of the companies or the transport department
Colour of the taxis not approved by the government