26 October 2016
Indian drivers for Uber show mobile phones given to them by the company. Photo: AFP
Indian drivers for Uber show mobile phones given to them by the company. Photo: AFP

India issues first guidelines for ride-hailing apps

India has issued its first federal guidelines for app-based ride-hailing companies after almost a year of legal wrangling over the legal status of Uber Technologies Inc. and others.

Under the guidelines, which are not binding, ride-hailing companies must obtain licenses to operate but will not be treated as taxi companies that must maintain a minimum fleet size and parking space, among other requirements.

The move is a boost for Uber and other app-based operators such as ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd-owned Ola which had sought regulatory recognition and approval after their services were ordered halted by authorities in Delhi in December, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The ban, never effectively enforced, was imposed after a passenger said she was raped by a driver booked through the Uber app on the way home from a night out in Delhi.

The driver, who is on trial, has denied wrongdoing.

In response, India’s Home Ministry advised state transport departments to bar ride-hailing apps without licenses.

Uber and Ola are involved in court battles over licensing requirements.

They are also trying to deal with a ruling by an environmental tribunal that drivers in Delhi must operate cars fueled with natural gas and not petrol or diesel.

A spokesman for Uber described the guidelines as “a big leap towards recognizing sector-specific regulations for technology-based ride-hailing services in India” where the San Francisco-based firm operates in 22 cities, the most of any of its markets outside the US.

But the spokesman expressed dissatisfaction with some provisions, including a requirement for vehicles to have emergency buttons.

“There are things that need to be ironed out and edges that need to be softened and we can do that in the weeks ahead with state governments,” the spokesman said on Tuesday.

In a statement, a spokesman for Ola welcomed the guidelines as a “major step” forward for technology platforms.

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