Facing a Karnataka government determined to crack down on shared cab services, international aggregator Uber is hoping that it can generate enough mass sentiment to win its case. Uber has kicked off a petition online, asking the Karnataka government to reverse its ban on shared cab services.
If initial numbers are any guide, Uber does seem to have a lot of popular support for its cause. Within the first hour of appearing online, the petition has already attracted close to 4,000 supporters.
The petition, “Support Ridesharing in Bangalore #BlrNeedsPool”, justifies cab-sharing on the grounds of the savings in fuel, time and pollution reduced by having more people travel in fewer cars. According to the petition, cab-sharing by Uber had saved 9,364,772 km of unnecessary driving and saved 4,40,623 litres of fuel and as a result prevented 1,037,000 kg of carbon dioxide emissions.
Uber’s petition comes three days after the Karnataka government banned cab-sharing services in their current form. The authorities said that they would allow cab-sharing, provided it adhered to a new framework in which Uber and Ola cabs conducted single pick-up and single drop-off services from designated locations.
UberPool and OlaShare have both proved to be highly popular services, as customers receive rides at heavily discounted prices, often as low as half the price of a normal ride. Till the Karnataka government’s ban, these rides consisted of multiple pick-ups and drop-offs from and to various locations.
Besides the cost factor, shared cabs were also often seen as helping to decongest roads and cut down travel times.
Banning cab-sharing services on January 26, transport officials had said that contracts for taxi services only allow a single pick-up and drop from point A to point B. Taxis would require a stage carriage permit to make multiple stops along the way, and currently, the state only gives these permits to government-run buses.
“UberPOOL is a product that enables Driver Partners to pick up and drop identified riders through the Uber App under a single contract. When a rider chooses UberPOOL through the Uber App, he/she consents to another person sharing the trip. There is a clear understanding between all the riders on the trip and the Driver Partner that the trip and the vehicle will be shared,” an Uber spokesperson said.
“The App also identifies all the riders and the Driver Partner. The law permits a contract carriage permit holder to stop to pick up or set down passengers who are included in the contractual understanding with the driver. UberPool fulfills this requirement and we believe that it does not violate the contract carriage permit,” the spokesperson added.
“In fact, the recent expert committee report on Urban Mobility which has been accepted by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways expressly recommends and recognises seat sharing in taxis as eco-friendly and being a cheap transportation option. Nevertheless, we have taken into account the concern expressed by the Transport Department and will be seeking to address them," the spokesperson further added.