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Way Past Deadline, Govt Sets Up Panel to Look Into Surge Pricing

The Transport Ministry is setting up a high-level committee to look into the issue of surge pricing in cabs.

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An  Uber app screenshot  used for representation. (Photo: Reuters)

The twenty-second of August came and went, but Ola and Uber have still not managed to solve their surge pricing issues, despite the deadline being past.

Now the Transport Ministry is setting up a high-level committee to look into the different issues related to taxi operators like Ola and Uber, including existing permits and surge pricing.

The panel is being constituted as per the direction of the Delhi High Court, which fixed 22 August, as the deadline after which such entities and other taxi operators cannot charge passengers more than the government-fixed rates.

“A committee has been constituted to examine all relevant issues related to existing permits given to black/yellow taxis, radio taxis, aggregators etc,” a Road Transport and Highways Ministry official said.

The 12-member panel will be headed by Road Transport and Highways Secretary Sanjya Mitra and will also address the issue of surge pricing by app-based aggregators and other taxi service providers.

The 22 August deadline was fixed after Uber told the High Court that it needed 10 days to make changes to its software to ensure passengers were not charged more than the rates stipulated by the Delhi government in June 2013.

Ola had told the court it had already stopped charging passengers more than the notified rates.

According to the prescribed rates, the fare for Economy Radio Taxi is Rs 12.50 per km, while it is Rs 14 per km for non-AC black and yellow top taxi, and Rs 16 per km for AC black and yellow top taxi.

The notified fare of Radio Taxi cabs (distinguished by an LCD board on roof top displaying ‘Radio Taxi’) is Rs 23 per km. An additional night charge (25 percent of the fare) is applicable between 11 pm and 5 am.

While addressing the issue of surge pricing, the court observed that while taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber reduce the pressure on public transport, “a uniform policy must be devised” for regulating them.

As per the direction from the High Court, the Ministry has constituted the committee which will finalise its report by 31 October, the official said.

The committee comprises Transport Commissioners from Delhi, Maharashtra, Telangana and Madhya Pradesh besides Joint Secretary and Deputy Secretary, Ministry of Transport and representatives from Ministry of Electronic and Information Technology, Central Pollution Control Board, and the Delhi Traffic Police.

(With inputs from PTI)

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