The centre is reviewing cab aggregators like Ola and Uber for surge pricing. The minister of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) Nitin Gadkari has directed officials to take the required steps in this respect, sources told India Today TV.
Surge pricing happens when a cab aggregator increases fares commensurate with a rise in demand. RSS affiliate Swadeshi Jagaran Manch (SJM) last month had asked MoRTH minister Gadkari to fix surge-pricing limits for taxi aggregators under the Motor Vehicles Act 2019.
In a letter to the minister, Dr Ashwani Mahajan, All India co-convener, SJM, had alleged that the taxi aggregators, including Uber and Ola, are profiteering under the ambit of surge pricing.
"Just in the last two weeks, we received screenshots where a fare of Rs 2,000 was quoted in Mumbai for a six-minute ride. This is outrageous and plain profiteering by these platforms," he argued. Mahajan quoted a survey to indicate that consumers from across the country are facing various issues with app-based taxi services such as Uber and Ola.
Stating the taxi aggregators, which started activities in India in 2014-15 to provide lower cost and convenient taxi services, had started profiteering, SJM called for a 25 per cent cap on surge pricing. Citing the prevalent penalty clauses against customers, SJM wanted the penalty to be levied against the taxi app company or the driver, as the case may be, in cases of abrupt cancellations.
The organisation also wanted basic customer service and app features to be standardised to facilitate speaking with customer service centres in case of an emergency.
Dr Mahajan expressed hope that the ministry will consider SJM's recommendations with an open mind in the interest of millions of riders in India.
"We have demanded that Rs. 100 or an amount equivalent to 20% of the fare be credited in the customer's account in case of a driver cancelling a ride, no surge pricing on advance scheduled booking and basic customer service and app features must be standardised in case of emergencies," he articulated.
The letter had come in the backdrop of the decision of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways to frame regulatory rules for app-based taxi aggregators under the Motor Vehicles Act 2019. Stating that the guidelines issued by the ministry in 2016 allowed surge pricing to the extent of three times of normal fare, SJM wanted the government to avoid a similar situation.
SJM had also marked copies of its representation to Gadkari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, consumer affairs minister Ram Vilas Paswan and the finance and corporate affairs minister Nirmala Sitharaman.