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Uber petitions against Maharashtra Draft City Taxi scheme

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Digital | November 03, 2015
The on-demand cab hailing service has received over 69,000 signatories so far.

The Mumbai division of Uber, the American international transportation network company, which operates the Uber mobile app, which allows consumers to submit a taxi request, has launched an online petition and a digital campaign against the proposed Draft City Taxi Scheme by the Maharashtra government. The petition urges passengers to express their dissent on the proposed scheme which will adversely affect them as well.

Uber

Uber taxi service connects a passenger to Uber drivers who drive their own vehicles. The proposed scheme would require taxi operators to maintain a reduced fleet of 1,000 to 4,000 taxis, in order to prevent local yellow-black city cabs from losing business. Once enforced, the cap will also force services like Uber and Ola to cut the number of drivers in Mumbai. The proposed draft also states that licensees would also be allowed to charge fares only as prescribed by the state transport authority. (In terms of pricing, both these companies offer cheap and flexible fares to passengers which surges with demand).

Uber's #MumbaiwantsUber campaign

As per the proposed scheme, the state government plans to introduce a cap on the number of vehicles that can register on an on-demand platform like Uber. This will result in reduced availability, longer ETAs and higher fares for Mumbaikars. The proposed scheme would require taxi operators to maintain a fleet of 1,000 to 4,000 taxis. Once enforced, the cap will force services like Uber and Ola to cut the number of drivers in Mumbai. Currently, there are no specific laws designed for these two companies.

The scheme was available for public comments until October 31, 2015.

An official note from the company also states that government-controlled, artificially inflated fares designed to protect the incumbent taxi industry will compel consumers to pay higher fares.

The Draft City Taxi Scheme also requires vehicle owners, the drivers that is, to comply with tedious requirements like the installation of physical panic buttons in vehicles, physical metres, rooftop indicators and printed receipts.

"We have proposed more efficient solutions to long-standing problems," states a blog post from the company.

Unlike Meru, or other cab operators, online cab hailing services like Ola and Uber do not come under Radio Taxi scheme owing to their unique business models.

Both these companies do not own their fleet of cabs or employ drivers; they simply connect the rider (consumer) with the cab via their mobile app.

Uber has been promoting the petition by launching a digital campaign on the proposed scheme. The campaign has garnered over 5,000 likes, 380 shares on Facebook, over 200 retweets on Twitter and over 18,000 video views so far.

The company has urged the Government of Maharashtra to adopt a separate, progressive regulatory framework, designed for on-demand mobility platforms.

Meanwhile, the Government of India has issued a separate advisory body for On-Demand Technology Platforms. The central advisory provides a holistic regulatory framework for state transport departments.

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