Meru, Uber differ on centre’s guidelines for ride-hailing apps

Meru, Uber differ on centre’s guidelines for ride-hailing apps
NEW DELHI: The central guidelines for taxi aggregators issued last month are a mixed bag for app-based players such as Uber and Meru.

While San Francisco-based Uber welcomed the policy calling it “forward looking” since it has given a green signal to ride sharing and converting private cars into taxis, it raised some concerns over the cap on surge pricing.

Homegrown Meru raised multiple concerns, saying that turning private cars into commercial vehicles may create a non-level playing field and that the cap on surge pricing is too high and may lead to domination of the industry by a few players. The guidelines cover aspects such as ride sharing, safety, fuel rules and fare calculation.

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Transport officials from Maharashtra, Delhi, Telengana and Madhya Pradesh were part of the committee that drafted the guidelines, which are not binding on states though may end up becoming a master document for states to adopt in the future.

“The committee’s vision on future of transportation is very forward looking. The report extensively talks about the need for liberalising regulations to promote use of public transport and discouraging private car ownership,” Shweta Rajpal Kohli, head of public policy and government affairs at Uber India, told ET. The guidelines make a strong case for shared transportation, she said, citing that every shared car can take 9-13 vehicles off the road.

Uber, for which India has become the second largest market after the US, has been aggressively pushing for regulations that allow ridesharing in four wheelers and two-wheelers. The company has also been lobbying for favourable regulations on allowing private cars to operate as taxis, a concept which it has already launched in cities such as San Francisco.

As per the guidelines, surge pricing can be up to three times the minimum fare during the day and up to four times between midnight and 5 am for vehicles in the economy category. There is no such cap for vehicles which are in the deluxe category, or longer than 4 metres.

Meru’s newly appointed chief executive, Nilesh Sangoi, told ET the company believes that in relation to fares, the guidelines are not consumer friendly. “Most of the radio taxis today are the Toyota Etios and Mahindra Verito. Both of these cost about Rs 5.5 lakh but fall under the deluxe category, thereby can charge unlimited surge price.” Even for the economy category, the maximum surge should be one-and-a-half time, he said.

Source by gadgetsnow….
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