Ola, Uber is raising car fares; TN form panel after Madras HC boost – The New Indian Express

Express press service

CHENNAI: While the Department of Transport has yet to revise auto rickshaw fares as per an order from the Madras High Court, Ola and Uber have silently increased the fare per kilometer from Rs 12 to Rs 15, and the minimum fare of Rs 25 to Rs 30 more than a month ago, drivers say.

These companies promised to raise taxi fares by 10-14%, the drivers say, attributing the promise to the protests they staged. Unlike auto rickshaws, taxi fares are not determined by the government as these vehicles are operated with tourist permits and do not have a contract transport license.

In accordance with the tariff set by the government for auto rickshaws – last revised on August 25, 2013 – users must pay 25 rupees for the first 1.8 km and 12 rupees for each subsequent km (see infographic). The Department of Transportation formed an auto rate review board to implement the court order. “It is headed by the Additional Transport Commissioner and will finalize the tariffs after receiving feedback from various stakeholders,” said Transport Commissioner S Natarajan, adding that the tariff will be notified after the committee submits its report.

However, the Chennai-based Auto Drivers’ Association is not excited about the upcoming fare structure. “Ola and Uber car drivers get 250-300% of the prescribed fare during peak hours and don’t pay, but regular drivers get only Rs 20-30 extra and are penalized for overcharging. What is the point of the court giving instructions to revise the tariff? asks the worker’s president of the association, S Balasubramanian.

As far as taxis are concerned, fares remain unregulated, and between 2015 and 2018 the state government refused to intervene in the operations of Ola and Uber, saying there were no provisions legal to regulate taxi aggregators and call taxis.

In October 2019, the Union government amended 93 clauses of the Central Motor Vehicle Act, which, among other things, deals with the regulation of transport aggregators. Although the Department of Transport formed a committee to implement the amendments, the provisions relating to penalties and regulation of aggregators have not been implemented in Tamil Nadu.

P Anbazhagan, President of Tamil Nadu Call Taxi Drivers and Owners Association, said: “About 45,000 call taxis were operated in Chennai till 2019 but the numbers have dropped by 50%. To safeguard the interests of 25,000 families, the government should regulate taxi services. Ola and Uber promised fares would be increased by 10-14%, but gave no further details, he added.

A transport official said: ‘The proposal to regularize taxi calls in line with changes to the Motor Vehicles Act 2019 is pending with the government.

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