App-based cabs will no longer be able to get away with surge pricing, with the Maharashtra government announcing a set of rules meant to regulate aggregators like Ola and Uber and put a cap on fares.
Addressing the commuters’ top woe of surge pricing — where demand and supply dictate the fares — the government has decided to fix the upper and lower limits. These caps will differ depending on the size of the vehicle.
The rules come two days ahead of the Assembly session, when Maharashtra transport minister Diwakar Raote made the announcement about enacting the Maharashtra City Taxi Rules 2017.
The regulation will also allow the black-and-yellow taxis to migrate to app-based operator, but under certain conditions. “Black-and-yellow taxis cannot do business as app-based taxis during peak hour and then go back to being metered taxis during non-peak hours, once they migrate,” Raote said.
The government has also introduced a new ‘app-based taxi permit’ that would be mandatory for all app-based taxis. The rules make it clear that taxis with tourist permits cannot be operated under app-based aggregators.
With the government making clean fuel vehicles mandatory, tourist taxis that run on diesel won’t be allowed to ply as app-based taxis. Sources in the government said they would be given a year’s time to switch to clean fuel.
The government has also decided to paint all app-based cabs white, with a stripe of daffodil yellow. For better safety, the government has put in place a 24x7 Control room, and made SMS alert facility and two-way communication systems mandatory. The rules also mandate police verification of drivers to find out if they have a criminal background.
State transport department officials said it will take a couple of months before the new rules, such as regulation of minimum and maximum fares are implemented.
Apart from this, the aggregators will have to maintain 30% cabs above engine capacity of 1400 cc in their fleet, while remaining 70% below 1400cc. The government has put a price tag of Rs25,000 for permit for cabs below 1400 cc, while the same for cabs above 1400cc would be Rs2.61 lakh.
The parity in permit cost is likely to prove controversial, as the aggregators had objected to it when the government had invited suggestion and objections on draft rules published in October 2016.
App based taxis, that became popular among Mumbaiites for being cheaper, more reliable and comfortable gave passengers relief from fare refusal, rude behaviour and fleecing by black-and-yellow cabs. But issues like surge pricing was pinching them.