Global online car hire service major Uber, which was banned by Delhi Government last month following rape allegations against one of the drivers contracted to the firm, has resumed operations in the capital. The company was asked to discontinue its services as it had reportedly misled customers by offering taxis with all-India permits. By law, all India permit taxis are not allowed to ferry customers point to point within the city.
Late last month, the Delhi transport department had modified the state Radio Taxi scheme 2006 to bring online car aggregators under the ambit of the scheme, paving the way for the likes of Uber to continue with its services in the state.
"We applied for a licence under the Radio Taxi scheme to bring you more transportation options. We do not believe these regulations (strictly) apply to a technology platform such as Uber," the company announced in an official blog post.
"We are hopeful that the Delhi government will follow the leadership shown by authorities in Bidhannagar, Kolkata, who have developed a new progressive framework that embraces innovation, supports consumer choice and ensures the safety of riders," the blog further read.
In the wake of the rape incident, the firm has also added several India-specific safety initiatives that include setting up a local team of safety experts to detect fraud; verify and authenticate driver and vehicle documents; engage local and global experts to evaluate the most effective background screening solution across India (a pilot programme of which is already running in select cities like Delhi); fitting physical GPS devices in all vehicles; setting up local customer support centres; and adding a 'ShareMyETA' button that allows riders to send complete trip details to family and friends.
The company started its operations in India in October 2013 and is already present in 11 cities — Bangalore, Chandigarh, Chennai, Jaipur, New Delhi, Pune, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Kochi.
It has recently raised $1.6 billion in convertible debt from global investment bank Goldman Sachs' wealth management clients. This new round brings the total amount of funding Uber has raised to date to more than $4.3 billion.
In the cab booking segment in India, Uber competes with domestic players like Olacabs, TaxiForSure (backed by Accel Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners), Savaari, taxiGUIDE and Cabs24X7. Most of these players have also pumped up the safety features on their respective platforms.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)