ridesharing_apps

Though ridesharing apps like Uber, Ola cabs etc. have come like a heaven in disguise for the Indian citizens, same is not the case with the Indian government. These companies are not only different from the traditional cab companies, but many tech based companies, too. This results in difficulty on the part of the government to regulate them under the existing laws.

Interestingly, this is not the case only with India. Governments all around the world are having a hard time with these ridesharing apps and are rolling out guidelines to address the unique business models of these companies. China had recently posted draft regulations that may force these companies to functions more like taxi fleets.

Following the footsteps of China, the Indian government has itself proposed its own set of legal guidelines. The guidelines published on the website of the Ministry of Roadways and Highways, proposes all the ridesharing apps to have an emergency button. This emergency button will be in addition to the in app feature that allows the user to call the police directly. Further, the guidelines also advises these companies to operate more like traditional taxi fleets, with 24/7 call centers, an in-depth background check of all drivers, branded vehicles, and a meter that will track the distance traveled and the passenger’s fee for the same.

After the infamous case of the rape of a female passenger by an Uber driver last year, ridesharing apps like Uber and Ola had religiously started the activity of checking the background of all its drivers. They had also introduced various privacy and in-app safety features in their apps as a result of the case. Despite their these efforts, the companies have been having a difficult time in the form of bans in the Indian capital, Delhi, and strenuous police investigations. A similar thing happened as recent as last month when the Delhi government rejected Uber's plea to operate in the Capital.

While famous ridesharing apps like Ola, Uber and TaxiForSure (acquires by Ola in March this year ) have each had their respective applications for radio taxi licenses rejected by the government over the past year, they’ve all been able to work it out by functioning as digital aggregators similar to an online marketplace like Flipkart, Amazon etc.

As these guidelines are not laws, it's not necessary for these apps to follow them but considering the safety of their users, many of these ridesharing app companies have accepted these guidelines with open arms.

According to a statement given by Uber India president Amit Jain, "The guidelines are a significant step in the right direction. They rightfully distinguish between taxi operators and technology platforms, and lay down sector specific regulations for our industry. We applaud the MoRT&H for holding a stakeholder consultation to develop these guidelines and are pleased to have participated in this process."

Resonating the same views, a statement from an Ola representative said, "We welcome the advisory from the Ministry of Road Transport and we believe this is a major step towards positively impacting the ecosystem and its stakeholders, that technology platforms like ours have created. We will continue to work with the government, under the aegis of this progressive directive, offering our complete support and commitment towards building mobility for a billion people."

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