On April 20, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said:
Surge pricing is daylight robbery. No responsible govt can allow that. Some taxis saying they will not provide cab if they are not allowed to loot. This is open blackmailing and government will not let that happen.
On the same day, he was suggested that the ban on surge pricing should be implemented even after the Odd-Even phase, Delhi CM Kejriwal had said:
Yes. We will do it
Two months after his commitment to the people of Delhi, ScoopWhoop decided to check whether the ban has been implemented or not.
Here's what we found out:
Despite Delhi government's extended ban on surge pricing in the capital, app-based cab aggregators like Uber and Ola continue to charge passengers under surge pricing during the peak hours in the city, raising questions on the implementation of the government's ban.
In April, a storm of complaints by customers regarding surge pricing by the taxi-services during the second phase of Odd-Even policy in Delhi, had prompted the Delhi government to order ban on surge pricing.
An Uber official confirmed to ScoopWhoop that the company follows the practice of surge pricing as the ban was "temporary." The official, however, claimed the company has modified its surge pricing model.
While the officials claim that there was government ban order, app-based cab service providers maintain that till now they haven't received a "full-fledged" directive from the Delhi government.
With the implementation of the ban, Delhi police had impounded more than 70 cabs for the violation of government's ban on surge pricing in April. It had also shared a telephone number - 011-42400400 - for public to register their complaints if a driver presses for surge pricing.
While the Kejriwal government had affirmed that the ban on surge pricing will extend beyond the Odd-Even policy, the app-based taxi services continue to charge customers 'surge-induced' fares during the peak hours.
"This will be taken care of soon," Anil Bankar, Additional Commissioner Operations, Delhi Transport department, told ScoopWhoop. "The government is soon coming up with a policy exclusively for app-based taxi operators that will cover all the facets of the regulating these taxi services."
Bankar was referring to the AAP government's announcement of framing a transport policy for app-based cab services during the second phase of Odd-Even policy in April.
"The policy will be exclusively for all the app-based taxis giving their services in the national capital. We will fix fares for them as we have done in the case of radio, economy cabs and kali-pili taxis. All app-based taxi services will be regulated through this policy," then Delhi Transport Minister Gopal Rai had said in April.
However, more than two months after the announcement by the Delhi government, the policy hasn't seen the light of the day.
The app-based cab services, on the other hand, express their position on the principle that they don't own the cars but just act as a platform for connecting customers with the drivers. Also, the companies have long maintained that the surge pricing helps maintain demand-supply equilibrium during peak hours.
In May, the central government had also swung into action, proposing guidelines to state governments regarding licensing, compliance, registration and controlling surge pricing in app-based taxi services. The final guidelines haven't been made public yet.
Previously, Delhi government had unsuccessfully tried to rope in app-based taxi services under its Radio Taxi Scheme for other taxis in the capital.
Special Commissioner, Delhi Transport department K K Dahiya refused to comment on the matter and suggested that ScoopWhoop speak to Delhi Transport commissioner.
Despite repeated attempts, the official could not be reached for comment.
Agreeing that the surge pricing was on, a transport department official, on condition of anonymity, told ScoopWhoop that "the focus of the department currently is on the development of policy for cab-services."
While claiming that the number of surge pricing complaints is "not much," the official also said, "the absence of regulatory framework is hindering the accountability of the app-based cab services."
A detailed query mail to two major app-based cab players - Uber and Ola - remained unanswered till this report was filed.
Interestingly, the helpline number for registering complaints about surge pricing, is no longer working.