They feel that the Motor Vehicles Act is too outdated and lacking rationale considering technological advancements

news Thursday, June 02, 2016 - 19:52

On Wednesday many Bengaluru people dependent on taxis were stranded in the rain as they scrambled to find unavailable web-based taxis in the heavy rain. That very day, the Karnataka High Court gave directions that will likely get the taxis back on the streets.

The reason for this was the ongoing tussle between taxi aggregators and the government over licensing. A source in Uber told The News Minute that many taxis affiliated to Uber Inc. and Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) in the city were off the roads on Wednesday fearing that their vehicles would be impounded by the Regional Transport Officials.

On Thursday the Karnataka High Court heard the petition filed by drivers affiliated to Uber and Ola against the Transport commissioner’s direction on Saturday, asking aggregators without a valid license to stop operations immediately. Drivers approached the HC after RTO officials conducted raids during the past few weeks.

The statement said, “Web-based aggregators had to obtain licenses to operate cabs and taxis. But many aggregator companies have not obtained licences, but are operating such cabs. This is a gross violation under sec-93 r/w 193 of the Motor Vehicles Act. Hence, companies which have not obtained licences from the concerned authority should stop operations with immediate effect otherwise strict action will be taken against such operators.”

Sources in Uber told The News Minute on Wednesday that representatives from Uber Inc and Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) said they feel that the Motor Vehicles Act is too outdated and lacking rationale considering technological advancements, and that the Karnataka state transport department was being unfair.

“Rules say vehicles must have a ‘taxi’ board put up on the front and back of the car. Now, Uber and Ola cannot be hailed randomly on the road, so there is no rationale to erecting behind it,” she said.

She said every taxi should be fitted with single integrated GPS / GPRS-capable vehicle tracking unit with printer, display panel and digital fare meter of certain specifications, capable of generating a printed receipt for passengers. “Though cabs do not have a digital fare meter capable of generating printed receipts, the bill is emailed to consumers and are also notified of the total fare by SMS, which is an in-app exercise,” she said.

After the hearing, the HC ordered that the transport department may neither take any coercive action nor question drivers until the next hearing on June 20. Until then, Uber Inc. has promised not have surge pricing.

The long wait between hearings might have some inadvertent effects, says the Uber employee. “Prolonging this discussion might affect functioning as some drivers who don’t know what is happening might fall prey to rumours,” she said, referring to taxi drivers’ protest on Monday on the Kempegowda International Airport road over rumours about raids by transport officials.

The News Minute could not get in touch with Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd)  at the time of writing.