Don't book cabs through mobile apps, says Mumbai traffic top cop

Updated: Jan 29, 2015, 11:16 IST | Shashank Rao |

After a driver of the car-sharing company Uber allegedly raped a woman in Delhi, the traffic department is asking people to not book private cabs using mobile apps, calling them “unsafe”

After a driver of the call taxi platform Uber allegedly raped a woman in Delhi, traffic cops and transport authorities are asking citizens to not book private cabs using mobile apps. A meeting of the Traffic police, taxi unions and the Regional Transport Office (RTOs) of Mumbai took place yesterday.

Gagan Bhatia (in cap), GM-Delhi, Uber Cabs, told the Delhi police yesterday that the company has no idea whether its drivers have undergone police verification. Pic/AFP
Gagan Bhatia (in cap), GM-Delhi, Uber Cabs, told the Delhi police yesterday that the company has no idea whether its drivers have undergone police verification. Pic/AFP

“These mobile apps used for booking taxis are quite vague and unsafe. We want to inform people to refrain from using such apps,” said Dr B K Upadhyay, joint commissioner of police (traffic). Upadhyay asked RTOs to verify the credentials of the drivers operating such cabs.

Sources said that, currently, there is no provision for checking these mobile apps. “There is no provision under the Motor Vehicles Act to determine the use of these mobile apps. These app companies are almost like agents who book cabs on your behalf for a commission,” said an RTO official, on condition of anonymity.

Uber, Ola Cabs, Taxi For Sure differ from the likes of Meru and Easy Cabs in that the former don’t have their own fleet. Drivers with tourist permits and a vehicle can sign up with them as a partner and take bookings. They basically follow an aggregation model.

Sources said that the RTO scrutinises the black and yellow cabbies and radio cab drivers while giving permits, checking all details including criminal records. “There is no control over private operators like Ola and others, whose drivers aren’t vetted,” added Upadhyay.

Authorities are also mulling criminal action if any driver is found plying these vehicles without providing verified documents. Rakesh Maria, police commissioner, has already stated that they will inspect all taxis in the days to come.

Meanwhile, the black-and-yellow taxi unions are demanding that the remaining 7,500-odd dead permits, which were to be allotted to radio taxi services like Meru and Tab Cabs, be instead given to them.

“Until now, these private cabs were perceived as safe. But this incident has shattered everything. We have already written to the transport department asking for the remaining 7,500 dead permits to be given to the black-and-yellow cabbies,” said A L Quadros, taxi union leader.

‘Full compliance’
“We are the only licensed ‘call taxi’ operator in India and are in full compliance with all regulations. Driver KYC is up-to-date and our drivers are verified and authorised by the RTO,” said Avinash Gupta, founder and CEO, Bookmycab, a call taxi service with around 3,000 black-and-yellow taxis in its fleet.

Kunal Lalani, president of the Radio Taxi Association, which represents the likes of Meru, Mega Cabs etc, said, “All taxi operators have to set up a call centre and ensure each vehicle is equipped with a GPS/GPRS tracking device, display the driver’s photograph on the dashboard and verify his particulars.

Companies like Uber, Ola have started operating services without seeking any licences from the state Transport authorities.” Anand Subramanian, director-marketing communication, Ola Cabs, said, “We ensure that the partner driver passes the stringent compliance check of his personal and professional papers.

All cabs have a smartphone device, which help us track them in real-time. We are also accessible over a 24x7 call centre. We are working on an additional layer of GPS tracking in all cabs.”

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