While the Ola and Uber drivers strike against the licensing requirements that were forced by the Karnataka Government is still going on, it isn't stopping Ola from sticking to it's product roadmaps and launches. Over the past few days, the company has been quietly launching their new features. Today evening, while several people were unable to find cabs for local commute, there were cabs available for outstation trips.
According to their official blog, Ola has opened the outstation trips to the users in Bengaluru, Vadodara, Kochi, Chennai, Kolkata and Bhopal. In Bengaluru, the base fares for a Mini Cab is Rs.2250 for the first 250 kms for 24 hours, post which the charges are Rs. 9 per km and the night charges are at Rs. 250 per night. For a Prime cab, the charges are Rs. 2500 for the first 250 kms, after which the user is charged Rs. 11 per km with night charges being Rs. 250 per night.
The cabs have to be booked two hours in advance and the trip dates can range from one to 10 days ahead. This move could have been made to pacify the cab drivers who were unhappy with the new licensing and permit rules. In last couple of days the rife between the government authorities and the cab drivers has been intense, with the cops stopping Ola and Uber cabs and levying heavy fines on them.
The main cause of the rife according to a cab driver was the fact that the government is forcing cab aggregators to obtain licenses as ‘operators only with a city permit and not a state one.’ Since these drivers are not exclusive to Ola or Uber or any aggregator for that matter. They have their own vehicles and can choose to take outstation trips for individual customers.
The State permit costs the drivers Rs 30,000, while the city permit costs Rs 5,000. With the new rule, the State permit that these drivers already have paid for is lost. The cab driver added that it would make more sense for them if they could just add a city permit to the existing State permit. Ola is yet to official comment in this recent development, though their blog and app clearly states they are operational for outstation trips.
This makes the licensing process all the more interesting. Cab drivers now will not have to give up their state permits. Does this mean that licensing is made easier for Ola?