Radio cab operators to introduce biometric verification of drivers

Radio fleet taxi operators are introducing biometric verification of drivers to have a better understanding about their background and to ensure better passenger safety.

Meru Cabs says this will help the company in doing a biometric verification of the driver before assigning a trip.

State authorities have asked taxi companies to come up with a safety plan by December 31, to be implemented by January 1, 2015, following the Uber rape incident in Delhi recently. One driver of the Uber cab service in New Delhi raped a company executive and the victim was not able to raise any alarm.

Many radio fleet taxi companies and web-based operators have submitted the database of their drivers. In all, a list of around 22,000 drivers were submitted. Of this, the credentials of around 12,500 need to be checked.

In Mumbai, there are Tabcab, Bookmycab, Meru, Easy Cab, Priyadarshini Taxi, Uber, Ola, CabZo, Taxi for Sure etc. The police will also verify the background of 44,500 taxi drivers, including those driving the black-and-yellow ones, in Mumbai.

The state also has plans to open up 200 taxi permits for all-women cab services, which didn’t draw the desired response earlier.

The transport department has added a process of verification and scrutiny of documents in the latest round of taxi and auto rickshaw lottery draw. In 2014, the state has issued 69,309 auto rickshaw permits and 7,843 black-and-yellow taxi permits.

Meru Cabs has deployed a simple app on Android phone, integrated to a fingerprint scanner or an iris scanner, which connects to the Aadhaar database, Nilesh Sangoi, Chief Technology Officer, said in an official blog.

“The procurement process of the biometric equipment has also started and we should be launching this safety feature in our cabs in the first week of January,” said Siddhartha Pahwa, Group CEO.

This is the plan Meru Cabs would be submitting to the Transport Commissioner before December 31. It will also ask the regulator to create a common database of all drivers, so that there is a central system of checks and balances linked with Aadhaar.

Bookmycab is also introducing certain safety features. Its founder Avinash Gupta told dna: “Not all drivers have Aadhaar cards, but we are thinking of gradually making it mandatory to have one. The database of drivers will include Aadhaar details. Moreover, we check their fingerprints and cross that with available in the UID system. If the data doesn’t match, they will not be part of our system.”

The cab operator is also working on offline app, ‘SOS button’, so that customers have some control during emergency situations. Once the SOS button is activated, a call will be generated to the police, apart from an SMS alert to relevant authorities and friends or relatives (giving an emergency/alternative number will be mandatory).