Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday his government will not allow app-based taxis services to blackmail consumers by overcharging during the second round of traffic restrictions dubbed the “odd-even”.
Cab-hailing companies like Uber and Ola had hiked their rates by at least three times during the odd-even rationing measure and commuters said they had to pay “astronomical rates” because of surge pricing, a business practice in which companies charge higher rates than normal to encourage more drivers to offer rides when demand for taxis outstrips supply.
The surge pricing varied from three times the usual rate to five times during morning rush hour.
“Some taxis saying they will not provide cab if they are not allowed to loot. This is open blackmailing n govt will not let that happen (sic),” Kejriwal said in a series of tweets.
‘We are not against taxi aggregators. We fully support them. They provide imp service to people. But they will have to follow law. Overcharging, diesel cars, drivers without license/badges n blackmailing by taxi aggregators won’t be allwed (sic),” he added.
He said his government is not against taxi aggregators but they will have to follow the law.
“Some media houses supporting surge pricing. One of these media houses has Rs 150 cr investment in one of these taxi aggregators,” the chief minister also said.
Kejriwal had issued a firm warning on Monday after complaints of surge pricing poured in during the odd-even hours. He had tweeted that taxis could be impounded or have their licences cancelled if they didn’t follow government rules on rates.
Ola and Uber suspended surge pricing after his warning but defended their action, calling the higher rates an incentive to encourage more drivers to offer rides.
Under government approved fares, economy radio taxis can charge Rs 12.50 per km while non-AC and AC ‘kaali peeli’ taxi fares are Rs 14 and Rs 16 per km, respectively. Cabs labeled ‘radio taxi’ can charge up to Rs 23 per km. With surge pricing of five times, Uber’s per kilometre rate reached Rs 35 during the day.
The government is under pressure since Monday to ensure adequate public transport for commuters grappling with the traffic rationing measure after Delhi residents got back to school and work after an extended weekend.
From April 15, for two weeks, cars are allowed on Delhi roads on alternate days, going by whether their number plates are odd or even. The second round of traffic rationing measures follows a two-week trial at the beginning of January that took more than a million cars off the roads each day.
It was first implemented at the start of the year for a fortnight and its second phase began last week.