Bengaluru: Ride-hailing service Uber Technologies Inc. has urged its users in Mumbai to protest against new rules proposed by the Maharashtra government that may force it and its rival Ola to restrict their fleets and constrain their ability to set prices.
San Francisco-based Uber on Thursday launched a hashtag campaign on social media sites Twitter and Facebook called #MumbaiWantsUber which urges the city’s residents to tell their elected officials to adopt “progressive" taxi laws.
The cab aggregator has also been reaching out to citizens since Wednesday through emails, pleading “we need your help", and asking them to sign a petition addressed to the transport regulator flagging concerns about changes proposed by state governments.
The draft guidelines, if passed in the current form, “will destroy the Uber that you know, love and have come to rely on", the company said in the e-mail.
Uber’s campaign has been prompted by the state government’s notification of the City Taxi Scheme, 2015. The scheme would require taxi operators to maintain a minimum fleet of 1,000 and a maximum of 4,000 taxis. If enforced, such a cap will force Uber and Ola to cut the number of drivers in Mumbai.
Currently, there aren’t specific laws designed for Ola (owned by ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) and Uber.
Unlike Meru and other cab operators, these two companies aren’t registered under the Radio Taxi Scheme, partly because their business models differ.
Ola and Uber don’t own cabs or employ drivers; they only connect users with cabs through their mobile apps. Meru, Mega Cabs and other radio taxi operators own a part of their fleets.
To bring Ola and Uber under the law, India’s ministry of road transport issued guidelines earlier this month to regulate these firms, identifying them as on-demand information technology-based transportation aggregators and not taxi companies.
It’s up to the state governments to accept or ignore the guidelines.
Ride-hailing companies such as Uber and Ola offer flexible pricing to passengers—the base price for some of their offerings is cheaper than autorickshaw fares, but when demand surges, a phenomenon called surge pricing kicks in, leading to tripling or even quadrupling of prices.
“For the riders, the proposed scheme is a clampdown on consumer choice and freedom," said Shailesh Sawlani, general manager, Mumbai, Uber. “We feel it is critical for the citizens of Maharashtra, who have for years suffered in silence with poor quality transportation, to stand up against these regressive regulations and make their voices heard. It is equally important for commuters to let the government know that this scheme does not have smart solutions or their interests at heart. Rather, it will take urban mobility in Maharashtrian cities, including Mumbai, the financial capital of India, back to the days of poor quality, haggling over fares, no transparency and accountability."