With Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal warning strict action against Ola and Uber vehicles allegedly overcharging riders on the first full-fledged working day of the implementation of the odd-even vehicle rationing scheme, both app-based cab companies temporarily suspended surge pricing in the Capital on Monday.
Earlier this month, the Karnataka government too banned surge pricing.
After commuters took to social networking sites alleging that rates were hiked due to Monday being the first full working day of the fortnight-long scheme, the Delhi Transport Department issued a helpline number aimed at bringing overcharging drivers to book, warning of legal consequences, including cancellation of permits and impounding of vehicles.
Any complaint related to overcharging, the Transport Department said, could be made on the telephone number 011-42 400 400 along with a copy of the bill and taxi number in cases of overcharging.
A source in the Transport Department told The Hindu that while the government would endeavour to penalise the accused cab driver with immediate effect in “as many cases as possible,” it also intended to tabulate the complaints and forward them to both companies for disciplinary action. Both firms, after deciding to suspend surge pricing in the Capital till the conclusion of the odd-even scheme on April 30, however, claimed that surge fares were not controlled by them but were decided in real-time based on demand and supply situation.
“Strict action, including permit cancellation and impounding of vehicles, to be taken against taxis which charge rates more than government prescribed rates,” Mr. Kejriwal tweeted on Monday, within hours of which both Uber and Ola announced temporary suspension of the surge pricing citing “support for the government’s odd-even initiative.”
In a statement, Gagan Bhatia, general manager, Uber North, said the company did surge pricing when demand outstripped supply. “Higher prices are required in order to get cars on the road and keep them on the road during the busiest times. This maximises the number of trips and minimises the number of people stranded … without surge pricing, there would be no car available when people need it,” he said.
Deep Singh, Business Head (North), Ola, said: “To make the government’s odd-even initiative a success, Ola has temporarily pulled out peak pricing in Delhi NCR.”