Mumbai: Ola launches shuttle bus services. Rules violated?

Mumbai: The app-based cab service Ola has launched shuttle-bus services on 18 routes across the city. This shuttle bus launch violates the rules under the City Taxi Permit Scheme 2017. The service offers app-based booking options for commuters in these air-conditioned buses. The taxi permit scheme, launched in February this year, restricts the operations of app-based cab services, including Ola and Uber, to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). It regulates the permit costs of these cabs, fuel usage to CNG and curbs surge pricing.

According to details mentioned in Ola’s blog, commuters can book their seats in these shuttle buses in advance before the trip begins. Routes mentioned cover areas between Thane and Powai, Turbhe and Kharghar in the central suburbs and between Lower Parel to Borivali in the western suburbs. “Fixed hours have been allotted for trips of these services. At present, there is one trip per service that sees a passenger capacity between 6 and 20. Different payment options including electronic wallet to cash payments are allowed,” it says, reported Indian Express.

The service is different than the regular cab-based service and base fare of this new shuttle service has been kept at less than Rs 4 per km. “The cost per seat for a service between Bhayander and Powai has been kept at Rs 59. For a journey between Bhayander and Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), it costs Rs 75. Services are available between 7.30 in the morning till 7 pm for different routes”, according to details on the blog.

“The way in which the service has been planned hints at a system of stage carriage. As street hailing of commuters for group travelling is an exclusive right of state transport buses or of Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), such shuttle services by Ola are not allowed. We will check if this violated regulations and will take action,” said a senior transport official.

Till June 20, none of the four Regional Transport Offices in Mumbai had received applications from Ola and Uber for getting registered under the city taxi permit scheme. Also the other cab-service provider Uber has moved court over the rules, under which the government has asked the service providers to apply for licences.

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