Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has issued a resolution (GR) setting out a formula for the fare fixation of app-based cab aggregators like Uber and Ola, the Bombay High Court has been told. In October 2016, the state government had constituted a four-member committee under the chairmanship of retired IAS officer B C Khatua to decide on the minimum and maximum fare structure for companies like Ola and Uber.
In September 2017, the committee submitted an exhaustive report to the government. On Monday, the government informed a division bench of Justices Amjad Sayyed and Anuja Prabhudessai that a resolution has been issued accepting most of the recommendations submitted by the committee. A few suggestions were rejected. The bench was hearing petitions filed by Uber India Ltd, Ola Ltd, and six driver-partners challenging the Maharashtra City Taxi Rules implemented by the state government in 2017.
When the petition was heard in November 2017, the government had said it would go through the committee's report and take a final decision soon.
The government said until then it would not take any coercive steps against taxi drivers under the Rules. On Monday, government pleader G W Mattos told the HC
that the state would not take any coercive steps against the Uber and Ola taxi drivers till April 6 when the matter will be heard. The government has accepted the committee's suggestion to allow additional charges for late-night journeys in all municipal corporation areas in the state from midnight to 5 am and in all other areas from 11 pm to 5 am.
"As regards the late-night charges, the same may be continued at 25 per cent in all municipal corporation areas but since in the non-municipal corporation areas, the chances of ridership or a return fare are relatively less, to compensate for the same, it is recommended to allow late night charges in those areas at 40% of the basic fare," the committee recommended.
The government accepted this suggestion. However, the recommendation by the panel to introduce "happy hours" by which black and yellow taxis could provide discounts to passengers during lean hours (afternoons) was rejected. The government also accepted the recommendation that an indicator be displayed to know the occupancy status of a taxi/auto-rickshaw.
"An illuminated LED indicator on top of taxi/ auto rickshaw can be provided to clearly indicate from a long distance as to whether that taxi/auto rickshaw is hired or
empty (available for hire) or off duty," the committee had recommended. The panel had suggested that a rooftop light indicator be fitted in all taxis and autorickshaws when these vehicles go to RTO for fitness certificates.
The committee also sought strict action against drivers who refuse to ply or behave arrogantly with passengers. The government has accepted these suggestions.
A Government Resolution (GR) issued on Monday stated that aggregators can surge their fare up to three times of the base fare of the black and yellow taxis, which is Rs 14.85 per km at present. In its report, the Khatua panel had recommended to fix the base fare between Rs 14 and Rs 16 per km for three categories of aggregator cabs--regular, mid-sized and premium-- whereas the upper cap for surge pricing recommended for them is Rs 26, Rs 32, and Rs 38 per km, respectively.
Currently, the minimum fares for black and yellow taxis and autorickshaw are Rs 22 and Rs 18 for first 1.5 km, respectively. Beyond the 1.5 km, the fare for taxis goes up to Rs 15 per km and Rs 12 for auto rickshaws, respectively.