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After Excessive Surge Pricing, Mamata Govt Poses Tough Questions to Ola, Uber

It was learnt that the state transport department swung into action after it received more than 100 complaints against the two transportation network companies for charging ‘absurd’ fares from passengers, even for smaller distances ranging from 2 km to 10 km.

Sujit Nath | News18

Updated:June 25, 2018, 2:47 PM IST
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After Excessive Surge Pricing, Mamata Govt Poses Tough Questions to Ola, Uber
Representative image (Reuters)
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Kolkata: Flooded with complaints against app based cabs for charging ‘excessive fares’, the West Bengal government has sought an explanation from Ola and Uber, and asked them to divulge their fare policies.

It was learnt that the state transport department swung into action after it received more than 100 complaints against the two transportation network companies for charging ‘absurd’ fares from passengers, even for smaller distances ranging from 2 km to 10 km.

Confirming the information to News18, Bengal transport minister Suvendu Adhikari said, “We have sent letters to Ola and Uber asking them about their fare policies. This was done after we received complaints that they are charging higher fares compared to distances.”

“We have asked to reply them within 15 days and our future course of action will be taken based on their response. They have to justify their fares since there is a sudden increase in complaints from people across the city and its suburbs,” he added.

Sources said the government will examine "illogical" hike in fares on the basis of ‘surge pricing’, a term used to describe increase in prices during certain times of the day when demand peaks.

“I travel regularly with Uber. Initially, the fares were normal but for the last few weeks, I am noticing they are charging arbitrary fares. It seems they have planned the fares as per timing and location. During rush hours the prices will suddenly increase. Similarly, if you are in Park Street (known for top food joints) in evening time, the fares will be abnormal. But at the same time if you are in Belghoria or in Barasat (northern fringes to city) the fares will be less for equal number of kilometers,” complained Sounak Maiti, a private bank employee.

“At times the fares shoot up to nearly four times the normal fare. Once from Park Street to New Town, a distance of about 15 kms, Uber showed a fare of Rs 700 at around 9 pm. I know that fuel prices have gone up, but even these fares are absurd and illogical,” he added.

Sources said that the state Transport Department has sent a questionnaire comprising 30 points to Ola and Uber, questioning how their surge pricing is determined and do they have transport experts who determine the pricing mechanism.

“We are here to serve the people by providing better transport system. Whatever be the issues, we will solve them,” the transport minister said. Officials concerned at Ola and Uber could not be contacted for their comment.
| Edited by: Sumedha Kirti
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