New Delhi: The Centre is likely to cap surge pricing charged by taxi aggregators such as Ola and Uber. This and other such regulations will be part of a framework being rolled out for cab aggregators by the government. The road transport and highways ministry, along with a bunch of states such as Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, among others, is working on a comprehensive framework to make cab rides safe and hassle-free.

“States have pointed out that there should be strict rules for rider safety. There have been two meetings till now. The discussions are on and the rules should be out by February-March next year," a senior government official told Mint.

Other steps aimed at protecting consumer interest include penalizing drivers for cancelling rides. In what may improve women safety and consumer experience, the government may also mandate taxi aggregators to have a 24x7 helpline. Insurance for riders as well as drivers could also form part of the broad guidelines for ride hailing apps, said the official.

The government has recognized and defined aggregators as digital intermediaries or marketplaces that can be used by passengers to connect with a driver for transportation, under the amended Motor Vehicles Act. While a broad framework is expected to improve customer experience, it is also likely to increase the compliance burden, along with higher regulatory scrutiny for the cab aggregators.

Before this, the law did not recognize web aggregator as an entity separate from a taxi operator. The government was prevented from intervene in matter involving cab aggregators, their drivers and riders earlier as there was no clear law regulating the industry. App-based taxi operators have witnessed a significant growth in the last few years, with the entry of global players such as Uber into India, along with the rise of home-grown company Ola operated by ANI Technologies Pvt Ltd.

As far as safety is concerned, the development comes in the backdrop of the Supreme Court asking the central government to consider bringing a law to regulate taxi aggregators to ensure women's safety. Uber, the world’s largest ride-hailing company, lost its commercial licence in London due to repeated safety lapses.

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