The disparity in the fare of mobile application-based ride-hailing services continues to rile customers. In the “Ride-Sharing Service Guideline 2017” draft approved on Monday, the ride-hailing services have been told to charge passengers based on the 2010 guideline.
An analysis of these two government policies, fares of taxi services provided by Toma Construction and Trust Transport Services, and app-based taxicab fare lays bare a huge discrimination.
Stakeholders have expressed indignation and demanded addressing the issue as soon as possible.
The government first approved taxicab services in Dhaka in 2002 to mitigate the sufferings of the people. Initially, 11,260 black and yellow cabs were put into service. The dwindling taxicab services were revived by the government in April 2014.
At that time, Toma Construction and Trust Transport Services were given permission to operate taxicabs in Dhaka and Chittagong. Currently, Toma has 250 cabs in Dhaka while Trust has 175.
Last year, a number of app-based ride-hailing services entered the market but the government had no control over them. The government later took the initiative to bring these new services under a guideline.
On Monday, the cabinet approved the guideline. Ride-sharing services will have to abide by 11 conditions and fix fares as per the 2010 taxicab service guideline.
Taxicabs have been divided into two categories in the 2010 guideline — air-conditioned and economy taxicab. For air-conditioned taxicabs, the fare for the first two kilometres is Tk60 and from the third kilometre Tk15.
On the other hand, the first two kilometres in an economy taxicab would cost Tk50 and from the third kilometre Tk12.
If the passengers get down before travelling a full kilometre, they will have to pay at the rate of Tk3 for one-fourth kilometre in the economy taxicabs and Tk3.75 in the air-conditioned taxicabs.
According to the Cabinet’s decision, the app-based services will have to follow this guideline when fixing fare.
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An analysis shows that the fare charged by the ride-hailing services is lower than what is mentioned in the government guideline. However, taxicabs operated by the Toma Construction, and Trust Transport Services charge more than the amount mentioned in the guideline.
These cabs charge Tk85 for the first two kilometres and Tk34 from the third kilometre. Their waiting charge (stuck in a traffic signal, jam and journey break) is Tk8.5 per minute while one has to pay an extra Tk20 for booking a cab over the phone. Moreover, the metre is started when the cab responds to the passengers’ calls.
Meanwhile, among the ride-hailing services, Uber taxicab’s lowest fare is Tk40 and for every kilometre after that Tk18. The waiting charge is Tk3 and the passenger has to pay Tk30 for cancelling services.
The motorcycle service provided by this company charges a minimum fare of Tk30, and Tk12 for each of the next kilometres while the waiting charge is Tk1 per minute.
Another app-based ride-hailing service Pathao taxicab’s minimum fare is Tk50. It charges Tk20 per kilometre and Tk0.5 waiting charge. Motorcycle services provided by the company has a minimum fare of Tk25. After two kilometres, it charges Tk12 per kilometres and Tk0.5 waiting charge.
Stakeholders say the new guideline will threaten taxicab services like Toma and Trust. These two companies have lodged complaints with the government fearing losses because of app-based ride-sharing services.
People point out that the fare of the first two kilometres (Tk85) is way higher than the government-fixed Tk50-60.
Moreover, these cabs charge Tk34 from the third kilometre which is much more than the government’s rate of Tk12-15.
Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) Secretary Muhammad Showkat Ali said they were yet to receive the draft the of the ride-sharing services guideline.
He said the fare of the app-based services had been raised a little. “There is a reason for it too. Earlier, companies used to charge as they wished and they did not have to pay VAT, tax or licence fees. But now they are being brought under regulations.
“These things have been added to their services. That is why the passengers will have to pay a little more than the fare, which is equal to the [amount fixed in the] 2010 guideline,” the secretary added.
About the disparity between the fare charged by Toma and Trust and app-based services, the BRTA official said the government would consider the matter.
Dhaka Metropolitan Taxicab (lease) Owners’ Welfare Association General Secretary Md Obaidul Haq said: “It is certainly discrimination. The taxicab industry is being destroyed through this. It will only encourage legalizing the illegal cabs while the legal cabs will be discouraged.”
Dhaka Auto rickshaw Workers’ Union General Secretary Mohammad Hanif Khokon said the passengers would normally choose the service with less fare. “It will result in a loss for the current taxicab services,” he said demanding to bring equality in fare.
Toma Group Chairman Ataur Rahman Bhuiyan said: “The government will certainly fix the fare considering the benefit of the passengers. We are already damaged, serious losers.”
An executive director of an app-based company, who declined to be named, said: “We will have to come under licences, renew them every year and pay vat and tax.
“We will have to take these from the passengers. We do not have problems with following the government’s guidelines but in that case, the passengers will have to pay extra.”
This article was first published on banglatribune.com