Uber gives in to Karnataka government’s guidelines, starts installing digital meters and panic buttons

21st Jun 2016
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San Francisco-based cab aggregator Uber seems to be giving in to the rules and regulations of Karnataka State government’s policy for cab services, reports The Economic Times.

Source : Shutterstock
Source : Shutterstock

As a part of the requirement to obtain licence, the new rules from the State’s transport department state that cab aggregators should install digital printers, panic buttons and a signage saying 'Taxi’ on all the vehicles. But the new rules have still not come into action.

Confirming the development, Uber said that they have currently borne the hardware cost for 100 cars. An Uber spokesperson said,

As part of the compliance requirement to obtain licence we have supported some drivers in Bengaluru with some of the hardware requirements and we bore the cost for these, as the requirement was for only 100 cars for the licence.

One such driver, who has been given the digital printer and panic button by the company stated that around 100 other drivers were given the same and asked to install them in their cars. He said the company has not given much clarity, and the equipment was given to them free of cost.

A spokesperson of digital printer manufacturer DMT Technologies in Bengaluru said its company has sold almost 200 digital meters to Uber in the last two months. The cost of each printer was around Rs 4,500, with the price going up to Rs 9,000 when receipt printing and GPS was added to the offering.

Challenging the regulations in court, Uber said that the Karnataka High court has adjourned the hearing of the case (between such online taxi companies and themselves), while extending the previous interim order till the next date of hearing.

On June 9, it was reported that the Regional Transport Office did not accept Uber's application and no explanation was given. But the reasons for not accepting the application was later stated by Karnataka Additional Transport Commissioner, HG Kumar.

Speaking to YourStory earlier, Bhavik Rathod, General Manager at Uber Bengaluru, said,

First off, we would like to say that we are in favour of regulations. They are a sign that the industry is being recognised. However, it is important that these regulations be progressive and not regressive. We, in fact, submitted our draft suggestions in February as well, but the final notification that got gazetted in April 2016 is very different from the draft regulations.

On the alleged ambiguity of the rules, Bhavik added,

They told us to apply for the licence of 100 cars, and post that we could talk. This isn’t how it works, as we have thousands of cars on the road, and they tell us ‘get the licence for 100 cars and then we will see. I don’t understand this. Does it mean that the remaining cars cannot drive as they haven’t complied? Or does it mean that 100 cars comply and the remaining cars don’t need to comply but can still be on road and flout the rules? We have sent a letter seeking clarification of what this means, and again we haven’t received any response other than ‘do this for 100 cars and then we will see’.

The clampdown by the Karnataka government and the cab companies' ensuing tussle come at a time when things were hotting up and becoming neck and neck between Ola and Uber. Just yesterday, Ola expanded to two new categories of outstation and rental services. The outstation service allows customers to book a cab for intercity travel, two hours in advance of the trip, while rental enables customers to rent a car on an hourly package basis.

In September, media reports suggested that Ola, which claims to be the market leader in India, was doing 7.5 lakh rides a day across 100 cities. Uber India claims to have 1.5 lakh drivers on its network and doing more than a 10 lakh rides daily. Further, it claims to hold 35 percent of the market share, with the parent company intending to invest as much as $1 billion in India, last July.

Last week, Ola was also reported to have taken an aggressive approach with its fund raising efforts, looking to raise $300-400 million in fresh funds.

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