Cab aggregators Ola and Uber have received notices from the transport department of the government of Karnataka asking them to explain why they are continuing to collect time-based charges from cab riders in contravention of a specific law in place in the state that prevents such charges.
Karnataka enacted a law in 2016, the Karnataka On-demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules, 2016. These rules notify the charges that cab operators can collect from their customers and there is a clear mention in it that time-based charges cannot be collected. The government has notified the latest fares chargeable that came into effect this January. According to this, smaller cars like Uber Go or Ola Micro can charge Rs 44 for the first 4 Kms and the bigger vehicles Rs 80 for the same distance.
There is the clause 11 (a) of these Rules that empowers the department to suspend or even cancel the licence of those operators who do not comply with these rules. It is under this clause that the present notices have been issued to Uber and Ola since they continue to charge their customers a fixed fare between destinations plus a time-based fee which starts from a minimum of Rs 1 per minute.
Though the companies are yet to react to this officially there are experts who study these closely and feel if companies stop charging time-based fare in addition to the normal tariff, they may end up only increasing their losses and the first to suffer could be cab drivers.
The irony is in a state such as Karnataka, particularly Bengaluru city, it takes much longer to cover even a short distance due to the chaotic traffic and the cab drivers will end up finishing lesser number of trips that if they were operating in any other city.