For operators, it is the car that matters more than safety badge | india | Hindustan Times
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For operators, it is the car that matters more than safety badge

Many drivers who run cabs associated with radio taxi operators, app-based taxi providers and aggregators such as Uber hardly go through any proper document or character verification, HT has found.

india Updated: Dec 09, 2014 02:13 IST
Uber cabs
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Many drivers who run cabs associated with radio taxi operators, app-based taxi providers and aggregators such as Uber hardly go through any proper document or character verification, HT has found.

Several drivers HT spoke to said that app-based cab services such as Uber were more particular about the condition of the vehicle than their documents or the background of the drivers. In fact, many of them work for several operators, including Uber, logging in and logging off from one system to another without any trouble.

“I was only asked for my driving licence and how good the condition of my car was. They did not press for a police verification, but then no operator is much bothered about the antecedents of the driver, whether they are radio or app-based. But Uber is better than other radio companies I have worked with in terms of payment to drivers,” a cabbie told HT, requesting anonymity as it may affect his business.

A driver working with EasyCabs said the company ran its own verification check.

“After I submitted my papers, a company representative came to my house to check if I lived at the given address. I did not have to go through any other verification,” the driver said, adding, “I do not have a PSV badge, and brought it to the cab company’s notice as I wanted them to help me get one. But the cab company said it does not matter”.

A public service vehicle (PSV) badge is mandatory under law for anybody who runs a public service vehicle in the Capital.

Apart from poor implementation of verification norms, most of these drivers hardly undergo any training on safety measures and proper handling of the customers. A driver who runs a Uber cab told HT that all that he was offered in the name of training was extending greetings to the customers, talking to them in English — saying ‘good morning, good evening’ — and offer courtesies such as opening the door for them. “About 100 people were trained with me,” he said. “Training is the same for all three categories: Uber Black, UberX and Uber Go,” he said.

Gagan Bhatia, general manager, Uber, New Delhi, could not be reached for a comment despite several phone calls and messages about their driver training and verification programme.

But it seems the general courtesy training is not working much, as pointed out by Manish Sharma, a regular customer of various app-based cab services. “Drivers of all these companies are the same. It is high time these companies should invest more in their drivers’ training and verification.”

Kartik Mehta, a Delhi-based IT professional, who has been using Uber since its arrival in the city, says the quality of Uber drivers had deteriorated. “They must have an emergency phone number or a safety measure built in the app which can be used by the passenger to alert the company. The problem with Uber is that it has imposed a western model on India, which does not take into account local social and law and order realities,” said Mehta.

Mehta’s complaint finds resonance in the fact that unlike some other app-based cab companies such as Ola Cabs and Taxi For Sure — which have their call centre number on their websites, which can also be used for registering complaints -- there are hardly any such details on the Uber website.

In fact, Delhi Police had to book a cab on Saturday to find Uber’s office since nobody knew where they are located.

Even as the Delhi government banned Uber, Travis Kalanick, Uber CEO, said in a media statement: “We will work with the government to establish background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programmes. We will partner with the groups who are leading the way on women’s safety in New Delhi and around the country and invest in technology to help make Delhi a safer city for women”.

Binod Mishra, executive director, Mega Cabs, said that unlike app-based cab services, Radio taxi cab operators were particular about implementing security measures.

“We have to follow rules under the Radio Taxi Scheme, 2006 which specifies that the licensee must be either a company under the Companies Act, it should have parking space, and office space with a control room and vehicles with GPS/GPRS-based tracking devices. But companies like Uber were not following any of these rules,” Mishra said.

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