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Uber Goes 'Cab'ut on Safety

Cab company doesn’t have Chennai office, no system in place for background check on drivers

Published: 09th December 2014 06:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th December 2014 06:07 AM   |  A+A-

CHENNAI: While the Delhi government on Monday banned the Uber cab service following outrage over an incident of rape, it may not be practically possible to replicate it in Chennai as there is no system in place here for call taxi operators to obtain a licence from the transport authorities.

Also, while the Delhi Police have egg on their face for giving a clean chit to the rapist driver who has a criminal history, here most operators have no mechanism for background checks of drivers. Meru Cabs appears to be the exception as it has a robust system, including collecting bio-metric data of drivers.

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Besides, according to the police, there is no way of cracking down on the vehicles operated by Uber as the cabs are not emblazoned with the logo or brand name unlike other services.

According to a senior police officer, there is no physical office in the city for Uber, whose services can be booked only through a mobile app and not by calling any mobile or landline number. Other operators having apps for booking provide an option to reach them over the phone as well.

Police said they have so far received no complaint against Uber here.

In fact, customers have expressed satisfaction over the services. Sanjana Balaraman, who uses Uber’s midnight black cabs quite regularly in the city said, “It’s an efficient service. As far as my experience here, the drivers have always been decent and well mannered.”

Launched a year back here, Uber had a select clientele, who found the booking easy. As another regular user pointed out, “You can’t book Uber cabs in advance. When you make the booking, vehicles around that area will show on the screen and you can choose one that will reach you in minutes.”

The vehicles linked to Uber have GPS onboard. These cars have a yellow number plate, meaning they are registered as ‘tourist taxis’.

Key questions

1. Should all taxis carry branding? (Uber’s vehicles don’t)

2. Should the State govt bring in a law to register all taxi service providers?

3. Should police certification of drivers’ conduct after rigourous background check be made mandatory?

4. Can the taxi service operator escape accountability if a heinous crime is committed by a cab driver?

5. Should not the identity details of the driver and the taxi service provider be prominently displayed in each cab?

6. Should it be made mandatory for all call taxi operators to have offices in each city they function out of?

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