Officials impound private cars offering share rides

Transport Department claims it is in violation of rules and that the apps are misusing the concept of carpooling for commercial gains

August 11, 2018 10:48 pm | Updated 10:48 pm IST - Bengaluru

 Officials booking a case against the owner of a Telangana registered car for using the vehicle for commercial purpose, in Bengaluru.

Officials booking a case against the owner of a Telangana registered car for using the vehicle for commercial purpose, in Bengaluru.

Ride-sharing apps, which allow private car owners to ferry passengers at cheaper rates than taxi aggregators, are becoming increasingly popular among people planning holidays and office-goers, especially those having to commute long distances. However, the Transport Department is cracking down on such services for violation of rules.

The apps let anyone with a car and who is undertaking a journey within the city, or even outside, a platform to connect with people needing a ride. Motorists need not have a commercial driver’s licence but can take a fee, which is often lower than the tariff in a taxi.

The department has booked cases against vehicle owners for using such mobile apps for commercial gains and has started impounding private cars.

Owners booked

Prior to taking action, officials downloaded apps offering this service and posed as passengers to catch hold of motorists.

In one instance, the officials impounded a Telangana registered car and booked cases against the owner for flouting various rules, such as using the car against the purpose of registration (using private car for commercial purpose) and lapse of insurance. The case was referred to a court, which imposed penalty of ₹2,000 for using the vehicle against the purpose for registration.

The car owner had come to Bengaluru from Hyderabad for work. He joined the mobile app platform by providing vehicle registration and other personal details. While returning home, he furnished the required details on the app and said there were three seats available for a share ride.

Officials posed as passengers and ‘booked’ the seats by agreeing to pay a total of ₹1,600. They arranged for the owner of the car to meet them at Jayanagar Metro Station. As the vehicle reached the pick-up point, the officials questioned the motorist, impounded his car and booked him.

“By using a mobile app, owners of private cars are reaching a contract with other passengers. Only yellow board taxis can ferry passengers by reaching a contract with them, like taxi aggregators do. Private vehicles cannot do that. When we inquired with the driver, he told us he was ignorant of the rule,” an official said.

In two other cases, officials took action against a car owner for offering a share ride from Bengaluru to Chennai for ₹1,000 and from Bengaluru to Hassan for ₹360.

‘Risks not addressed’

Officials added that citizens put themselves at risk when travelling in private cars. “If they meet with an accident, they will not get compensation as private car insurance does not cover passengers, unlike commercial yellow board vehicles,” said an official. On the legality of share rides operated by cab aggregators, such as Ola and Uber, the official said: “They [aggregators] have challenged the rules in the High Court of Karnataka.”

Officials said that these apps were misusing the concept of carpooling for commercial gains. There is a fine line between a group of people offering to share fuel cost to commute to a common location and making money out of carpooling services. “If anyone uses private vehicles for commercial purposes, it is violation of rules,” the official said.

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