Auto services

Difficult to develop an application for car services: Karnataka government met to set tariffs

It “will be difficult” for the government to develop an app to offer car services, the Karnataka Transport and Road Safety Department said in a meeting with traffic police from all areas on Tuesday, activists mobility and the general public. The meeting was held to make a decision on how to set app-based car rates.

The ministry’s response came after people called on the government to create their own ridesharing app and setting rates for automotive services.

Transport Commissioner SN Siddaramappa said: “Developing a carpooling app by government will be difficult now. The government proposing an app is something that will take its own course and until then we will have to work within the framework of the Constitution. However, we will make efforts to do justice to the public in this direction by taking into account the contributions of all stakeholders of the issue.

A transport official, who was present at the meeting, said: “Uber, Ola and Rapido are not something the transport government introduced. We are in a liberalized world and everyone has the opportunity to invest in any business. Initially, ridesharing apps were well received by passengers as it was a door-to-door pickup. However, the conflict erupted when car rates for these transport apps skyrocketed. As instructed by the Karnataka High Court, we convened meetings and collected input from all stakeholders, including car driver unions, transport company representatives, the general public and mobility experts, after which we will file an affidavit and submit in the High Court of Karnataka.

Urban mobility experts, social workers, activists and residents present at Tuesday’s meeting echoed a similar sentiment and demanded a ride-sharing app from the government. Some members also demanded tough action against wandering auto rickshaw drivers, while others called on the Department of Transportation to introduce a shared mobility model.

However, most people vehemently objected to Ola and Uber’s “raise pricing” system and called it “daylight theft.” Likewise, they also criticized the government for allowing app-based car services to operate “illegally” and “overcharge” passengers without basis.

Chetan Rajashekar, a technician, said, “It is normal to allow Ola and Uber to operate within the law and create a level playing field for private players. However, to what extent do the rules of the road transport authority allow them to increase their car fares. Surge charging by such apps is nothing but extortion. So, at the end of the day, what guarantee do we have that Ola or Uber won’t go bankrupt? Therefore, a government offering its own app is a feasible solution.

Satya Arikutharam, an independent mobility expert, also submitted a series of suggestions to the Department of Transportation where he recommended the state government to adopt the Center’s Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines 2020. In his suggestion, Arikutharam said that under Center guidance, transportation departments should set 3km as the minimum fare for rides booked through apps. Which means that based on the current fares set by the state government, Rs 45 will be the minimum base auto rickshaw fare for rides booked on the apps.

He also suggested that, in accordance with the recommendations of the Motor Vehicle Aggregators Center Guidelines, 2020, the transportation department could update the base fare each year with the current year’s inflation. In addition, he also said that according to the guidelines, 80% of the tariff applicable to each trip should be paid to the drivers and the remaining fees for each trip should be collected by the aggregator.

In October, the Karnataka High Court granted interim relief to ride-sharing apps offering car services after the government ordered a ban on the services. The court also asked the government and all stakeholders to come together and decide on the setting of rates for car services by ride-sharing apps. The court, in its interim order, allows the apps to charge an additional 10%, plus GST, for their auto services.