Transport officials take Uber, Ola drivers to task at airport

Under the scanner: The Ola Prime parking area at Terminal 2 of Mumbai airport on Wednesday.

Under the scanner: The Ola Prime parking area at Terminal 2 of Mumbai airport on Wednesday.  


335 were found without a badge, 35 had no licence; ₹21.77 lakh collected in fines

The transport department has started cracking down on drivers and cars running on cab aggregator platforms like Uber and Ola. During a week-long drive in October at Terminal 2 of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, 335 drivers were found without a badge and 35 without a licence.

A driving badge is issued by the regional transport office to commercial drivers after doing background checks and police verification. “It is a very serious issue especially because a driver needs to have his badge with them all the time. It is through the badge that the traffic police or we get to know whether they have had a criminal record or have been charged with any crime,” a transport department official said.

During the exercise, officials checked cars having an all India tourist permit, also known as T-Permit, who were primarily engaged with Uber and Ola. The department caught 990 errant drivers who were found flouting different rules and collected fines of ₹21.77 lakh. The officials said they plan to suspend the licences of the errant drivers.

Transport Commissioner Shekhar Channe said they had conducted the drive from October 15 for around a week. “We found several drivers plying their vehicles without a badge; some of them didn’t even have a licence. We plan to conduct similar drives at different parts of the State and at many airports,” he said.

However, despite establishing that the drivers were primarily engaged with the two app-based aggregators, the transport department has yet to take any action against Ola or Uber. Officials said they could not take action against the two companies as they don’t have jurisdiction over them. “We don’t want to target drivers as the issue is much larger. However, we feel these drives should create some pressure on the companies,” an official said.

The Bombay High Court has stayed the implementation of the Maharashtra City Taxi Rules, 2017, after the two companies appealed against it. The rules in effect bring taxis running on aggregator apps under the ambit of the transport department with regards to issuance of city taxi permits and regulation of fares.

The transport department had been getting several complaints against Ola and Uber from T2 of the airport about cancellations, long waiting times, and surge pricing, and hence decided to conduct the drive. Interestingly, of the 990 cars that were checked, 810 did not display the T-Permit on the surface of the car which is mandated by law, a practice, officials said, followed by several drivers who ran on the two mobile platforms.

Both Ola and Uber did not respond to queries e-mailed to them.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 6:00:29 AM |

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