App-based taxis continue accepting bookings despite ban

  • Atul Mathur, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Dec 11, 2014 01:34 IST

The mobile applications of OLA Cabs and Taxi for Sure continued to function on Wednesday even though the Delhi government has imposed a ban on them.

While OLA Cabs accepted bookings through mobile application and its call centre (33553355), the mobile application of Taxi for Sure was working but advised customers to try booking a cab “later”. Uber’s mobile application, however, remained non-functional.

Delhi’s transport department, in what many termed as a knee-jerk reaction to a 25-year-old woman’s rape by the driver of a cab, had on Monday banned all web and mobile-based cab-hailing services from providing transport services in the Capital.

The government, it seems like, does not know how to implement the ban — “on illegal and unlicensed operators” operating in the Capital — effectively

The transport department officials on Wednesday scrambled to find ways to implement the ban and to revise its policy to accommodate tech companies that have gained huge popularity in providing prompt and cheap taxi service in just about a year of their presence in the country.

“We have asked traffic police to impound vehicles flouting permit conditions. Our own enforcement teams have also been asked to act against such vehicles,” an official said, adding that physically verifying each and every taxi to ensure rules were not being flouted was a tough job for the 150-member enforcement team. There are more than 30,000 all India permit taxis in the Capital and sources said more than 10,000 taxis work for tech companies.

Sources said the Union home ministry had also pulled up the transport department officials for having ignored the “illegal operations of technology companies” and not acting in time against them. Officials added that the Union ministry of road transport and highways had also asked the transport department to come up with revised guidelines for taxi operation in the Capital. Sources said the ministries were concerned that the ban may lead to transport problems in Delhi at a time when re-election to Delhi Assembly are on the anvil.

“We are trying to find a solution to this problem through technology. One thing we are totally sure is that unlicensed companies cannot be allowed to operate. But the way out of this problem and what kind of changes to be incorporated to make space for tech companies is something that we are still exploring,” a senior transport department official said.

The transport department held a meeting with six authorised operators to understand how radio taxi and how technology companies operate in the Capital.

“The department has sought suggestions from us on the guidelines that can be tweaked. We are not against the tech-based companies and we will be giving our suggestions to create a level-playing field for them and create healthy competition,” said Kunal Lalani, president, Association of Radio Taxis.

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