Despite government order, Uber refuses to take down ride-sharing feature POOL | business-news | Hindustan Times
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Despite government order, Uber refuses to take down ride-sharing feature POOL

Cab aggregator Uber says it will not take down the POOL feature on its app, despite the Karnataka transport department directing it to do so. Uber general manager Christian Freese says Bengaluru was the fifth largest POOL city globally, and riders have saved about Rs 47 crore by taking POOL.

business Updated: Feb 09, 2017 08:54 IST
Vikram Gopal
Uber general manager Christian Freese says Bengaluru was the fifth largest POOL city globally, and riders have saved about Rs 47 crore by taking POOL.
Uber general manager Christian Freese says Bengaluru was the fifth largest POOL city globally, and riders have saved about Rs 47 crore by taking POOL.(Reuters File)

Cab aggregator Uber on Thursday said it will not take down its ride-sharing feature POOL on its app, despite the Karnataka transport department directing it to do so.

The company had sought three days’ time on Tuesday after the department pointed out in a meeting that the Motor Vehicles Act did not permit multiple pick-ups in the same trip.

The meeting was necessitated after drivers and owners of cabs attached with Uber and Ola had taken to the streets in Bengaluru, protesting the reduction of incentives paid to them by the two firms.

Members of various taxi drivers associations protest against Uber and Ola for not providing proper benefits to drivers in Bengaluru. (HT File)

Meanwhile, the ride-sharing feature had ensured that their earnings were reduced as customers were being charged lesser under the feature.

On Thursday, Uber mounted an offensive against the transport department’s directive, with the firm’s general manager Christian Freese launching an online petition in support of the feature.

“We will mail users of Uber asking them to sign the petition,” he said.

Underlining Bengaluru’s importance for Uber, Freese said: “Bengaluru is the fifth largest POOL city globally. This was the first city in India where we launched the service, and riders have saved about Rs 47 crore by taking POOL,” he said.

“We believe that POOL does not violate any laws in India and we are constantly speaking to the transport department regarding this,” Freese said. He said no notice was issued to the company and hence it was not thinking of discontinuing the service.

However, transport commissioner MK Aiyappa said the service was illegal.

Asked about Uber’s stand on POOL, he said: “They had asked for three days’ time to take down the service. We will take action if they do not do so.”

Freese also said drivers who were not happy with the change in incentives were free to leave the platform. “We have not forced them into anything,” he said.

Talking to HT, Premnath Shetty, a driver attached with Uber, objected to Uber’s stand.

“It is easy for them to say that we are free to leave the platform. But many, like me, bought new cars to join the platform, enticed by the huge incentives they promised us,” Shetty said.

Shetty, who bought a Swift DZire two years ago after moving from Mangaluru, said the installments on his loan had not yet been paid. “From around Rs 1 lakh a year ago, I earn only Rs 40,000 a month now, which does not include the cost incurred on fuel,” he added.

“The only way forward now is that the government must intervene and help people like me who have left jobs and moved to Bengaluru because of these firms,” he said.