Taxi aggregators need to become more responsible

Updated: Dec 25, 2019, 05:13 IST | The Editorial | Mumbai

While too much government interference is indeed not good for any business, recent incidents and the callous behaviour of the aggregators have made it abundantly clear that there is an immediate and crying need for some basic level of state oversight

This picture has been used for representation purpose only
This picture has been used for representation purpose only

When private aggregators entered the city's taxi market, they were welcomed with a resounding cheer. Citizens, who were fed up with the high-handedness of the old black-and-yellow cabs and rogue autorickshaws, saw them as a solution to their commuting woes. It was an added benefit that the introductory offers were appealing and a cool cab ride often cost less than what it would for an autorickshaw ride.

As the government sought to regulate the private operators, they claimed that they were just an intermediary matching taxi drivers with customers and resisted the efforts to get them under state transport regulations. Citizens cheered this, too, and backed the aggregators.

But as the years rolled by, a lot of the initial sheen has gone off. A report in this paper narrated the shocking ordeal of a customer who had to drive the taxi home after the cabbie fell asleep at the wheel. Worse, Ola, the aggregator in question in this case, refused to respond to the customer's complaints. And Uber, which doesn't even have a customer support team in India, is not much different from Ola when it comes to such shenanigans.

As such, these companies have lost public goodwill and a lot of citizens are not so supportive of them. Customers also believe that the companies fleece both them and the drivers, have no accountability, show scant regard for passenger safety — especially of women — and have in essence become a law unto themselves.

While too much government interference is indeed not good for any business, recent incidents and the callous behaviour of the aggregators have made it abundantly clear that there is an immediate and crying need for some basic level of state oversight.

For starters, the government can look at a complaints body where customers can take their grievance against these companies. Such a move will also ensure that the aggregators take their paying customers seriously, something they are not bothered about currently.

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