Raising cab fares during high demand will be banned permanently in Delhi, chief minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Wednesday, describing as “daylight robbery” taxi aggregator Ola and Uber’s business model that has angered many city commuters.
As the second phase of the odd-even road rationing scheme left thousands of people struggling to find transport under a blistering April sun, Kejriwal accused Ola and Uber, without naming them, of blackmailing the government.
On Monday, the government banned “surge pricing” – the term used for demand-linked taxi fares – till the odd-even scheme was in force but changed its mind after a severe shortage of cabs on the road fuelled people’s anger.
“Surge pricing is daylight robbery. No responsible govt can allow that (sic),” Kejriwal said in a tweet. After a user suggested that suspension of surge pricing should continue even after the odd-even scheme ends, Kejriwal added, “Yes. We will do it.”
“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).”
Ola and Uber, which withdrew surge pricing on Monday after the government’s threat to cancel licences and impound cabs, have defended the mechanism saying it is used to lure more cab drivers to offer services during high demand.
The transport department, which has deployed 100 teams around the city, has seized 75 vehicles in three days.
Official sources said that apart from cabs using surge pricing, the transport department is also acting against taxis for charging per-minute fare and not adhering to the fixed base fare of Rs 25 for the first km.
“We have learnt that base fare of Ola and Uber starts from Rs 40 for first two km. They also charge Rs 1 per minute which is illegal,” said a transport department official.
The government re-introduced the odd-even scheme to clean up the capital’s notoriously foul air and clear its clogged roads but has faced severe criticism from the political opposition and a section of the public.
People have been taking to social media – Twitter and Facebook – to share their experiences, mainly about having to pay three to five times the normal taxi fare.
Kejriwal said the government was not against taxi aggregators but made it clear that overcharging will not be allowed.
“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 said in another tweet.
Transport minister Gopal Rai said a policy will be introduced soon under which app-based taxi companies will have to charge fares fixed by the transport department.