The Karnataka government has made the online booking of autorickshaws on the ride-hailing apps of Ola, Uber and Rapido illegal from Wednesday. The decision was taken following a meeting between the Karnataka Transport and Road Safety Department and the representatives of the mobility players on Tuesday. Transport Commissioner T H M Kumar held a meeting with the three companies and they have agreed to stop aggregating autorickshaws starting from Wednesday, according to the sources. In a briefing with reporters, Kumar said the ride-hailing platforms such as Ola and Uber cannot provide autorickshaw services till the government takes a decision.
The Karnataka government warned app cab aggregators that it would be imposing a fine of Rs 5,000 on vehicles found operating illegally.No action will be taken against the autorickshaws and only the firms found to be aggregating them will have to pay penalties.
This development comes after the Karnataka government declared the auto-rickshaw services of players such as Ola, Uber and Rapido “illegal”, following multiple complaints of overcharging. Mobility players such as Ola, Uber, and Rapido had been asked to discontinue their auto-rickshaw services in Bengaluru in three days. The state transport department issued notices to these companies on Thursday. Uber and Ola had told the government that they have complied with the rules and reduced their minimum auto fare for the first two km back to Rs 30.
The transport commissioner pointed out that there is no scope for the mobility players to offer autorickshaw services on their platform under the Karnataka On-Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rule (KOTTAR), 2016. They have to give a fresh application to resume autorickshaw services.
“All aggregators have been asked to shut auto operations immediately or face criminal action,” said an industry source. “They will now need to apply for auto license.”
Meanwhile, Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai told the media persons on Tuesday that he has asked the transport department to take stern action against app-based companies if they were found to be offering auto-rickshaw rides in Bengaluru without a valid licence. He made the comments after reports surfaced that Ola, Uber, and Rapido were overcharging customers on auto-rickshaw rides booked on their platform.
The move by the government also comes after 13 autorickshaw drivers’ unions reportedly set a seven-day deadline for the state government to ban the three aggregators. There are about 200,000 autorickshaws in Bengaluru of which around 100,000 offer services through ride-hailing platforms. Customers also have complained that they keep facing challenges to commute as many auto drivers don’t go by meters on offline trips. Uber and Ola officials had told the government that it is much more difficult for customers to get auto drivers to go by meters on offline trips, according to sources. They have told them that ‘no haggling, fixed price, and door-step pick-ups’ are the benefits of app-based rides.