Ola and Uber drivers can now operate simultaneously on both platforms



Next time you try to hire a cab on the Ola or Uber platforms in Bengaluru, be a little wary. In case your driver is unable to find you, he may not even try. Because he is not losing out on his income. In fact, he will be able to switch to the other platform. And you will have to try booking again.

Karnataka Transport department on Saturday released new rules under Section 212 of the Motor Vehicles act 1998, allowing drivers on on-demand transportation technology aggregators' platforms to operate simultaneously with multiple aggregators. YourStory is in possession of the documents, which says:

“The license shall:

  1. Give liberty to the permit holder who is in operation under his company to operate his vehicle simultaneously with any other aggregator as per his discretion.”

This means more business for drivers. For instance, if a driver is in Indiranagar and can't find a customer on Ola, he does not have to keep driving to another location to get a passenger. He can switch to his Uber platform and get a passenger if there are any.

The State government’s notification is based on the advisory issued by the Central government (in October 2015) directing State governments detailing the aspects to be considered for the purpose.

Yet, the option for inter-operability can become a recipe for trouble for passengers, as currently the drivers will find the passengers, even with some effort, as their income depends on it. But now with an option to work with another platform simultaneously, things can change.

Neither Uber nor Ola employs their drivers but gathers them as service providers who use their tech platform. Till now, both had allowed their “driver-partners” to work with other platforms, but not at the same time.

Uber, which has always been particular in stating that the drivers are not attached to their company, has been keeping their fingers crossed for government approval on this particular bit. However, Ola was strongly against it, due to probable issues on accountability.

 Like Mumbai, Like Bengaluru

Drawing parallels with the Mumbai version of the rule, which was released a few months ago, the Karnataka government has also stated that the vehicles shall be fitted with a yellow display board with “Taxi” visible from the front and the rear. [The board shall be capable of being illuminated during the night hours.]

The rule has also specified other mandates such as GPRS and a physical emergency button, among others.

The better news for the customer, and not-so-good for the aggregators, is that the fare, including other charges if any, shall not be higher than the fare fixed by the government from time to time. So the next time when you try to book a cab during the “peak hour” and it does not show 5X on charge rates, do not worry that your app is not working – the government is just watching out for you.




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