Uber cab was taken off the roads in New Delhi after the shocking rape incident last December in which an Uber passenger was raped by her cab driver. Only six cab services – Easy Cab, Mega Cab, Meru Cab, Chanson Cab, Yo Cab and Air Cab were allowed to operate thereafter. But very recently, the ban has been lifted and with this, Uber has resumed its services in the national capital.
Uber that promised safety was unable to provide the same. It failed to do a proper background check of its driver who was involved in the rape. The same driver had earlier been charged of sexual assault in 2011. The phone number used by the driver for registration with Uber was not in his name.
Uber uses just the driver’s smartphone to track the car’s location which means these cabs were running without a GPS tracker. And not only this, Delhi’s transport department had cited a number of other rules that were broken by Uber. In this light, can Uber be trusted now?
Uber, headquartered in San Francisco, California, is an app-based taxi service that uses smartphone application for receiving a passenger’s ride request. This app then tracks the location of its vehicles and connects the two. Growth of Uber and other taxi services like TaxiForSure and Ola in India can be attributed to the weak public transport system. India is the second largest market by coverage for Uber outside the United States.
Uber’s Position in Other Countries
Uber has been marred in controversies in several countries around the world. Its services keep coming under speculation for one or the other reason. Many taxi drivers, rival taxi companies as well as government in many countries consider Uber as an illegal Taxicab operation that puts passengers at high risk.
Some embarrassing instances involving Uber:
1. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency issued a cease-and-desist letter to Uber in May 2011 for operating an unlicensed taxi service. The Washington, D.C. taxicab commission impounded a cab of Uber driver in January 2012. Many such and other cases of violations have been reported from Massachusetts, Chicago, New York, Seattle, Virginia, etc.
2. The UberPop ridesharing service was banned by Dutch judges on 8 December 2014 in the Netherlands.
3. New Zealand Police stopped many Uber vehicles in January 2015 for violating the Land Transport Act.
4. Uber cabs were banned by the Hyderabad road transport authority in India for not holding a proper license to operate in the city. The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs advised every Indian state to stop using Uber cab services. Following this, the state government of Karnataka also banned Uber on 11 December 2014.
Concerns of Safety with Uber
Uber is an app-based taxi service. Drivers are required to respond within 15 seconds to accept the new request. They may be temporarily suspended for not responding to new requests. Many countries object and criticise such a short responding time as it may distract drivers that can lead to accidents.
Uber drivers need to login to accept riders’ request. There is a possibility that Uber cab drivers may hire someone else in his place. This is a big question of breach in their security and verification process.
New Rules and Regulations
Delhi’s transport authorities have made certain changes in the rules governing the functioning of taxi service providers like Uber and its rivals Ola and TaxiForSure. As per new rules, Uber and other app-based taxi service providers need to have infrastructure including parking area, a local office, GPS-fitted taxis, and a customer service center. Taxis will also be equipped with an alarm that will send an alert to a police station or a control room.
Uber is now licensed under the Radio Taxi Scheme of 2006. It can no longer work as a ride-share ‘technology provider’ but like a cab operator.
Creating new rules is fine but for the safety of women more strictness in rules is required. Safety expectation goes even higher with technology ridden service providers. The background checks should be more rigorous. We do not need to look tough but we have to be tough.