Ride sharing with strangers on a discounted price may get banned by the Delhi government in the near future. The City Taxi Scheme 2017 – launched by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal – was supposed to clear the air on this matter at the end of last year, but that never happened. Under this scheme, cab aggregators will be barred from offering shared rides to their customers as “it is not compatible with the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988″, a source said.
As it was supposed to be notified at the end of this year, the delay has only given rise to speculations that the scheme aims to put a ban on the shared rides service offered by app – based taxi services like Ola and Uber.
Senior officials in the Delhi transport department have revealed that the latest draft of the scheme was submitted to Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot in December along with a list of suggestions. The list calls for allowing Ola and Uber to offer shared rides but only after tweaking their mobile apps according to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. First and foremost, the cab operators would have to add “safety features” such as sharing their GPS logs with the state government and the Delhi police. Moreover, they have to ensure that their cabs are approved by the regional transport offices of all states they operate in, within the National Capital Region – Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. The scheme also states that it should be the passenger’s wish whether they want to share the ride or not.
The speculation on the probable ban started in February 2017 when a series of reports quoted unidentified officials stating that cab aggregators were violating the Motor Vehicles Act by offering such services. Delhi seems to be following in the footsteps of Karnataka – which too, put a ban on sharing rides in Bengaluru. While Karnataka lifted the ban after only a few weeks, Delhi plans to pursue the proposed ban.
The Delhi government has justified the proposed ban with the reason that currently; cab aggregators operate under the Contract Carriage Permit, which only allows “point-to-point transportation” without any stopover between where the ride starts and the destination. What it basically implies is that a taxi service provider cannot charge multiple passengers for a common ride. Only vehicles with the Stage Carriage Permit, such as public buses, can do so. This permit is not feasible for taxis as it would severely restrict their routes within the city and they would only be able to travel to specific locations on specific timings – the same rule that city buses adhere to, a transport official explained.
So we suggested a way out,” the official explained. “A passenger pays the full fare for a ride and she gets to decide whether or not to share the ride. If she chooses to do so, the next passenger in, pays the first passenger instead of the cab driver. This transaction between passengers who agree to share a ride has to be enabled virtually through the mobile apps which already offer payment through e-wallets.”
Besides this problem, Kejriwal said that cab sharing is a good idea and that his government is discussing issues related to this matter. However, he did not comment on the City Taxi Scheme 2017, and Gahlot, who was said to take a final call on December 7th, has not done so.
On tweaking the apps, primarily, the cabs sharing their GPS logs with the government would help in insuring women passengers’ safety. The idea is to share the cab’s GPS logs with the Delhi police’s women safety app, called Himmat.
The transport official further went on to say that “The scheme also says no taxi registered in any other state of the National Capital Region will be allowed in Delhi unless it is party to a reciprocal agreement endorsed by the regional transport office in Delhi and vice-versa,” To state matters simply, it implies that a cab registered in Haryana must also be approved by the regional office in Delhi and vice versa. In such a situation, cab operators like Ola and Uber would have to develop a system wherein customers requiring inter-state travel would only be assigned those cabs which are approved by the transport offices of both states.
The official, however, asserted that the final call on these matters will only be taken by the minister and him alone. “We can end up officially saying something and land in an awkward position with the minister contradicting what we had said,” he said. “But it is high time for the scheme to be notified.”
Source: NDTV and Scroll.in
Featured image: Hindustan Times