Upset with certain sections in the revised taxi scheme introduced for regulating app-based taxis, Uber has written a letter to Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis and opposed the government’s decision of putting a cap on the maximum and minimum fare of app-based taxis.
In the letter dated October 21, the US-based taxi service provider has expressed concerns about three main points in the revised scheme - restrictions on engine capacity, steep price tags for permits and restriction on pricing. Uber says the cap on pricing will make the service unreliable because of higher waiting time.
On October 15, Maharashtra government published a revised Maharashtra City Taxi Rules 2016 for regulating app-based taxis and controlling surge pricing, in which the fare shoots up if demand for the taxis increases.
In the revised scheme, the government is going to fix a maximum and minimum fare for the app-based taxis. It would be mandatory for every operator to have at least 50 % of its taxis with more than 1400 cc engine capacity in their fleet. The government has put a price tag of Rs2.61 lakh for each permit for these taxis as against Rs25,000 for the permit for taxis below 1400 cc.
Uber has welcomed the move of bringing a new regulation for app-based taxis, besides the decision of issuing separate permits for those.
It, however, cautioned that the policy would push fares up, making the service more expensive and unreliable for riders, which will hurt the livelihood of thousands of drivers. Uber says the requirement to deposit Rs50 lakh for 1,000 vehicles, will make the business unviable.
“Some of the proposed rules - if adopted - would mean an end to the Uber that Mumbaiites know and love today,” said Shweta Rajpal Kohli, head of public policy of Uber, in the letter to Fadanvis.
According to Uber, the existing rules are burdensome and said they will prove to be problematic for riders, drivers and the state.
“We understand that existing taxi drivers are feeling the pressure from services like Uber. But the answer is to level the playing field by reducing today’s burdensome regulations – not to introduce rules that will be bad for riders, drivers and Maharashtra,” reads the letter.
Since 2014, Uber has launched its taxi services in Mumbai. The services became hugely popular despite the notorious Delhi rape incident, in which a Uber driver had raped a woman passenger. Discounts and offers played big role in getting its service popular.
Uber said that the 24/7 efficient, reliable and safe transport available at a push of a button has changed the way Mumbaiites travel. It also claimed that it was providing livelihood with dignity to thousands of drivers in the state.
“I am sure you will appreciate that regulations that limit the economic opportunity for thousands of drivers and come in the way of affordable transport option for riders will be detrimental to the state and its citizens,” said Kohli, in the letter.