To improve last-mile connectivity, the Delhi government plans to roll out a fresh ‘Maxi Cab’ scheme this year. The cabs provided under the scheme will be air-conditioned and will have seating capacity of six to 12, excluding the driver. The scheme will be a departure from the Gramin Sewas that ply on 166 routes across the city as passengers won’t be exposed to dust, pollution and the scorching heat. Over the next few months, more than 10,000 such AC cabs are likely to be introduced on the city roads.
“We are integrating all small-sized public transport vehicles under one policy. So, all the Gramin Sewas, Eco Friendly Sewas, Phat-Phat Sewa and existing Maxi Cabs will be clubbed together,” said transport minister Satyendar Jain.
The government plans to gradually phase out such vehicles and introduce the AC cabs to cover shorter distances that will operate on stretches of up to 15 kilometres.
At present, Delhi has more than 7,200 small-sized vehicles, the fares of which are either fixed like in Gramin Sewas or are as per the rates of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC). Besides improving last-mile connectivity, the move will also help reduce traffic congestion.
“The cabs will run on point-to-point basis across Delhi. The problem is that currently, Gramin Sewa, Phat Phat Sewa and others are running on parallel routes adding to chaos on the streets,” said a government official.
Explaining the process, the official added that the government will only issue permits and private owners will run the service. “Very few know that a Maxi Cab service exists in Delhi.But it was not quite successful. So, we are re-introducing it in a new format,” another official said.
The existing maxi cab service was launched in 1994 but even after so many years, only 120 such cabs ply in the city. “These cabs run on contract carriage permits. Until now, the transport department has issued 140 maxi cab permits and 120 are on the roads. At least 100 of them run on routes, the remaining ply without any route specification. The fares are fixed by DTC,” the official added.
Transport experts have welcomed the move and said it will help reduce reliance on personal vehicles. “Almost 70% Delhiites travel shorter distances of up to 6km and even for that they take out cars. Providing reliable and quality public transport to fill the last-mile gap will help reduce the number of private vehicles on roads,” said Nalin Sinha, a transport and road safety consultant.