It is being reported that soon the Ola and Uber cabbies may have to pay a hefty sum of Rs. 1000/- in case they cancel the rides. This is after Madhya Pradesh government has proposed to pass a law in this regard to ensure the safety of passengers and quality of service.

We all have come across the situation when we were in a hurry to get a cab, we ordered one using one of the multiple cabs hiring app, and at the last moment, the cab drivers cancel our cabs. This has yielded us in big troubles. Many of us have become late for offices, parties, functions and even for our trains and flights.

And these guys give us multiple kinds of excuses and reasons, every time, they cancel our ride. A technical issue with the cab, my work time is over, we don’t go over to that route, there is a lot of traffic on the way. People have seen situations where their ride got rejected for selecting online payment as an option.

These cab riding companies (Uber Technologies Inc.) and Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) charges us the amount when we cancel their rides as per our convenience. However, there are no penalties or benefits to the customers to compensate, if the cab driver has cancelled the rides on their own. This violation of public rights by the cab riding app companies has now been taken seriously by some of the state governments.

As per a recent report, Madhya Pradesh Government is on the way of passing a law which will envisage provisions which mandate the imposition of penalties worth Rs. 1000 on cab companies, for every cab ride order cancelled by their associate cab-drivers. The aim of the government behind this law is to ensure the delivery of good quality services to the customer, as well as increase the passenger safety and bring appropriate attention of the companies to customer’s comfort.

Not only this, but the law will also focus on the rates of rides and will make provisions to regulate the fares. Further, provisions for the establishment of control rooms to monitor cab rides and activities, alerts with beeping sounds when a cab stops midway, or distorts from the regular route, or starts moving towards the different location, have been incorporated.

“The administration feels the need to regulate app-based taxi providers because they have been in operation across the state for quite some time now, yet everyone has different fares and terms and conditions,” said an official in this regard.

The law will not only cover the app-based cab ride services but will also cover other business/services like auto-rickshaws, rental bikes/cars, taxis etc.

Although, MP is not the first state of the country to have come up with a legal move in this regard. Karnataka and Maharashtra already have regulations to monitor and penalize the activities of cab & taxi service aggregators.

According to the Karnataka Laws, the aggregators are not allowed to own or lease any vehicle, employ any drivers or represent themselves as a taxi service, unless they have obtained registration as a taxi operator under the law. Further, the taxi & cab service operators/aggregators have to maintain a minimum fleet size of vehicles, have an authentic and registered office space and a parking space enough to encompass the fleet of taxis, to operate their business under government guidelines.

Further, the Maharashtra government issued a ‘City Taxi Scheme 2015’ in the year 2015. The regulations of the scheme mandated the licensee taxi aggregator companies to maintain a fleet of a minimum 1,000 vehicles and a maximum of 4,000 taxis. This threshold was put in place to restrict the businesses from scaling up in Mumbai beyond and below a certain limit as it is a key market.

However, the one things that make the MP’s upcoming cab & taxi-related regulations, different and an improved version of these acts/laws is that the MP government law has mandated the imposition of a penalty on the cab companies where the aggregators will have to pay a fee of up to Rs. 1000 in case of cancellation of the ride by operators. As described by a senior official, the Law has been proposed and a gazette notification is expected to become a reality hopefully in a month or so.

Another official said “From the safety of passengers to condition of vehicle and fare, every aspect will be regulated. The state will fix minimum and maximum fares so that passengers aren’t fleeced and neither does any firm undercut the others. It would be fixed in such a way that it benefits passengers.”

To place a rule in this regard was a necessary move and we appreciate the efforts made by state governments. However, only a few of the many states have understood the public need. There should be a centralized act or regulation regarding the operation of taxi services which could be brought into effect and monitored across the nation with the help of state governments. What are your views on this?

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