New Delhi: As Delhi pollution levels have outstripped those of China's capital Beijing, a number of measures are being taken up by the Delhi government to curb a further worsening of pollution levels. According to a US Embassy pollution measure, tiny particulate matter PM2.5 showed a reading of 608 at 10 AM, while the safe limit is at 50. PM2.5 particles, when inhaled, can cause heart attacks, lung cancer and many respiratory diseases. One of the measures announced by the Delhi government include re-introducing the odd-even scheme again this year, which has a direct effect on private app-based taxi services including Uber and Ola as also on their surge pricing policies.
What Is Surge Pricing?
Surge pricing is a policy implemented by private taxi companies Ola and Uber when the demand for taxis is high. When the demand for taxis is high, the regular price of the taxis increases by a 'surge' in the form of a multiplier. This results in a higher fare for the customer.
How Does Delhi Pollution Effect Surge Pricing?
As pollution levels in Delhi soar, the public is asked to use public transport more in order to have lesser vehicles ply on the roads. In order to have fewer vehicles on the roads, the state government will implement the Odd-Even rule in Delhi. According to the rule, cars with even number plates will run on the even number dates and cars with odd number plates will run on the odd dates. The implementation of the rule will occur from November 13 to 17. Thus, cars with odd number plates will be allowed to ply on the roads on November 13, 15 and 17, whereas cars with even number plates will be allowed on November 14 and 16.
Thus, because of the implementation of the Odd-Even scheme by the Delhi government, fewer vehicles will be on Delhi roads, including fewer private taxis. As a natural result of there being fewer taxis on the roads, Uber and Ola would increase their fares through surge pricing.
In order to rein in rising taxi fares, Delhi Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said, "We will ensure taxi companies will not have surge pricing. There will be a meeting will called for tomorrow to discuss the issue of surge pricing."
According to Delhi government sources, 2000 traffic police personnel will be deployed to enforce the odd-even rule this year. A challan of Rs 2000 will be levied on those not complying with the odd-even rule and these challans will be cut between 8am and 8pm.
A measure of the same kind had been taken before, when air quality had dipped last year. When the Delhi government had called for strict action on surge pricing last year, Uber and Ola had said that they would comply with the government order, but that it would hurt their businesses.
Whether the taxi companies would react the same way this year, is yet to be seen.