Certain points of the new policy guidelines that the Centre issued to regulate taxi service and those proposed by the state government seem to be contradicting each other.
Several recommendations made by the six-member committee of the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH), are not in tune with the rules in the state government’s proposed policy, that is in the last stage before it is finalised.
Of the several differences, the most important one involves tourist taxis and the restrictions on the number of app based taxis.
“States should facilitate unhindered grant of permits for City Taxi (Conventional) and AITP (All India Tourist Permit taxis) without any restrictions on numbers,” states one of the recommendations of the committee.
For regulating app based taxis of aggregators like Ola and Uber, and controlling their fare, the Maharashtra government had invited suggestions and objections on the new draft of the Maharashtra City Taxi Rules 2016.
Though the ministry-appointed committee recommended that the tourist taxis be allowed to operate as any other kind, the state’s draft policy states that these cabs cannot be operated as app-based ones.
According to the state’s draft rules, tourist taxi owners will have to acquire new city taxi permits within three months, once the rules became effective. Since, app based aggregators have majority of the tourist taxis in their fleet; it was expected to affect them adversely.
The state policy also says that app based taxi operators will have to make sure that 50% of their fleet have an engine capacity above 1400cc and the rest below that. The government has also put a price tag of Rs 25,000 (for engines below 1400cc) and Rs 2.61 lakh (for engines above 1400cc).
Despite receiving several suggestions and objections opposing the price tags, sources said the transport department had forwarded the final draft for the chief minister and transport minister’s nod, without revising it.
The ministry committee’s recommendation, however, differs from it.
“There should be no restrictions on the choice of the operator or aggregators with regard to the composition of the fleet, i.e. deluxe and economy,” it states.
The Maharashtra government has opposed to both bikes, taxis and e-rickshaws in the state, according to transport department sources, but the ministry recommendations promote it.
“The states should promote bike sharing and e-rickshaws for last mile connectivity,” states the MORTH report. It further recommended allowing ride sharing on the aggregator’s taxis, on which the Maharashtra government policy does not have a single word.
“In order to provide cheaper travel solutions and to reduce the number of cars on the road, sharing of seats may be allowed on aggregator-based taxis with express consent of the passengers,” it reads.
Meanwhile, according to transport department officials, it seems that the policy guidelines of the MORTH committee are not binding on the states. But, the government is likely to consider those before finalising the city taxis rules.