TAXI WARS

As Uber turns off surge pricing in Delhi, Bengaluru already (sort of) banned it

The new rules put a ceiling on maximum fares but the limit is still three times higher than lowest cab prices.

No more ridiculous surge prices of six or seven times on Ola and Uber. At least not in Bengaluru. The Karnataka government's decision to regulate app-based taxi services this month came with new restrictions on how much services like Ola and Uber can raise tariffs based on demand. These may even provide a template for responses in other states, like Delhi, where Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has promised "strict" action against app-based services.

Surge pricing, as its known, often means that customers have to deal with fares that are several times the actual rate advertised by these companies. Ola and Uber have fought against any regulation of surge pricing, insisting that they provide incentives for drivers to move into high-demand areas and ensure customers always have access to cars.

The Karnataka government doesn't entirely agree. In new rules now being enforced, authorities have mandated that air-conditioned cabs will not be able to charge more than Rs 19.50 per kilometre from riders. Those without an AC can only bill up to Rs 14.50 per kilometre.

This does not mean a ban on surge pricing – it simply means there is now a ceiling on the surge pricing by laying down the maximum amount that can be charged at any time, which is equally applicable toweekend nights or during rush hour.

What this means is that companies like Ola and Uber can still charge a premium in periods of high demand up to three times their prices if one goes by their minimum pricing for cabs.

Uber’s cheapest service is UberGo which starts at Rs 7/km while Ola Micro runs small hatchbacks starting at Rs 6/km in Bengaluru. Thus, even with the newly announced limits, users might end up paying three times the usual fares of these services.

Both Uber and Ola have submitted their list of objections to the new policy to the government which has already started clamping down on cab companies for violating the rules. Over the past week, at least 20 vehicles from the two companies have been seized by the transport department for violating the new provisions and the crackdown is likely to intensify in the coming days.

“Every day, we are receiving complaints on Ola and Uber charging consumers higher than the limit set by the government. We cannot allow surge pricing. The enforcement will be beefed up in the coming days,” HG Kumar, additional commissioner for transport and secretary, state transport authority told Mint.

Surge policy

This might not be the end of this tale as the new rules allow the government to nix the price ceiling as and when it wishes to do so, implying that it could lower it even more if enough users complain about surge pricing or might just make it higher – if cab companies argue their case well enough.

And Karnataka may only be the first. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, whose government has already toyed with banning cab services altogether in the past, took to Twitter to suggest he would once again be looking to take action against the apps. This prompted Uber to suspend surge pricing in the capital, given the "threat to the livelihood" its driver-partners.

Moreover, Maharashtra is already walking in Karnataka’s footsteps by moving to cap fares which can be charged by taxi apps. The transport department in the state has already submitted a proposal to the government to fix fares and regulate surge pricing.

“The fare will be decided on the cost of the vehicle and the engine capacity. The transport department will enjoy powers to cancel licences for non-compliance,’’ a Maharashtra minister told Business Standard.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

Advice from an ex-robber on how to keep your home safe

Tips on a more hands-on approach of keeping your house secure.

Home, a space that is entirely ours, holds together our entire world. Where our children grow-up, parents grow old and we collect a lifetime of memories, home is a feeling as much as it’s a place. So, what do you do when your home is eyed by miscreants who prowl the neighbourhood night and day, plotting to break in? Here are a few pre-emptive measures you can take to make your home safe from burglars:

1. Get inside the mind of a burglar

Before I break the lock of a home, first I bolt the doors of the neighbouring homes. So that, even if someone hears some noise, they can’t come to help.

— Som Pashar, committed nearly 100 robberies.

Burglars study the neighbourhood to keep a check on the ins and outs of residents and target homes that can be easily accessed. Understanding how the mind of a burglar works might give insights that can be used to ward off such danger. For instance, burglars judge a house by its front doors. A house with a sturdy door, secured by an alarm system or an intimidating lock, doesn’t end up on the burglar’s target list. Upgrade the locks on your doors to the latest technology to leave a strong impression.

Here are the videos of 3 reformed robbers talking about their modus operandi and what discouraged them from robbing a house, to give you some ideas on reinforcing your home.

Play
Play
Play

2. Survey your house from inside out to scout out weaknesses

Whether it’s a dodgy back door, a misaligned window in your parent’s room or the easily accessible balcony of your kid’s room, identify signs of weakness in your home and fix them. Any sign of neglect can give burglars the idea that the house can be easily robbed because of lax internal security.

3. Think like Kevin McCallister from Home Alone

You don’t need to plant intricate booby traps like the ones in the Home Alone movies, but try to stay one step ahead of thieves. Keep your car keys on your bed-stand in the night so that you can activate the car alarm in case of unwanted visitors. When out on a vacation, convince the burglars that the house is not empty by using smart light bulbs that can be remotely controlled and switched on at night. Make sure that your newspapers don’t pile up in front of the main-door (a clear indication that the house is empty).

4. Protect your home from the outside

Collaborate with your neighbours to increase the lighting around your house and on the street – a well-lit neighbourhood makes it difficult for burglars to get-away, deterring them from targeting the area. Make sure that the police verification of your hired help is done and that he/she is trustworthy.

While many of us take home security for granted, it’s important to be proactive to eliminate even the slight chance of a robbery. As the above videos show, robbers come up with ingenious ways to break in to homes. So, take their advice and invest in a good set of locks to protect your doors. Godrej Locks offer a range of innovative locks that are un-pickable and un-duplicable. To secure your house, see here.

The article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Godrej Locks and not by the Scroll editorial team.