The Delhi government launched a helpline on Monday for citizens to report about taxi operators overcharging under surge pricing, a day after aggregator Uber brought back the practice in the National Capital Region.
Transport minister Gopal Rai tweeted that residents of the national capital can use the number 011-42400400 to register their complaints and said strict action will be taken against those following surge pricing.
Surge pricing is a business model in which companies charge higher rates than normal to encourage more drivers to offer rides when demand for taxis outstrips supply.
Uber’s announcement on Sunday, the day a ban on diesel-run cabs came into effect in the NCR, prompted chief minister Arvind Kejriwal to warn the operator of a “strong action”.
“Some taxis hv started charging surge. Surge not allowed under law. They r warned that strong action will be taken against them,” Kejriwal tweeted on Sunday.
The chief minister had earlier described Ola and Uber’s business model as “daylight robbery”.
A day after the second phase of the odd-even scheme aimed at curbing air pollution ended on April 30, commuters across the city who availed of the services of the app-based cab firm found that surge pricing was back.
When contacted, an Uber spokesperson confirmed the development, saying that suspension of surge pricing was only a “temporary” measure. The move came even as the ban on diesel-run cabs affected nearly 27,000 vehicles.
Uber had introduced the provision during the second phase of the odd-even road rationing system, and the move was objected to by commuters. Kejriwal had asserted that such demand-linked hikes would be banned permanently.
A senior Delhi government official said action will be taken against these companies based on complaints. “We will impound their cabs,” the official said.
While an immediate confirmation could not be obtained from Ola, another app-based service, its app displayed a message saying peak time charges may be applicable during high demand hours and will be conveyed during the booking which “enables us to make more cabs available to you”.
Ola displayed the disclaimer during the odd-even period as well, although it did not invoke peak-pricing till Saturday.
Uber and Ola hiked rates by at least three times during odd-even, and commuters complained they had to pay “astronomical rates” because of surge pricing.
They had to withdraw the move after the government’s threat to cancel licences and impound cabs.