Of 45,000 app-based cab aggregators in Mumbai, only 96 apply for permits in 2017
The state government’s new rules, formulated in March 2017, make it mandatory to get permits, but drivers are unwilling to pay for itmumbai Updated: Mar 26, 2018 12:20 IST
Neither the app-based taxi aggregators nor the majority of the drivers of their cabs have taken the Maharashtra Motor Vehicle Department’s (MMVD) new norms to regulate their trade seriously. In response to the state government’s new scheme for city taxis introduced in March last year, app-based aggregators were asked to sign up for licenses. However, they have ignored the state government’s new rules, as only 144 drivers have applied for these city taxi permits. Mumbai alone has more than 45,000 app-based cabs.
Statistics reveal that the state transport department’s bid to regulate app-based cabs and surge pricing has hit a dead end. The Maharashtra government announced its new rules — Maharashtra City Taxi Rules 2017, to regulate app-based taxis on March 4, 2017. The state has made new city taxi permits mandatory for app-based taxis under the new act. For the permits, the cabbies would have to shell out Rs25,000 for cars with an engine capacity of 1400 cc and those, who have cars with higher engine capacity, would have to pay Rs2.61 lakh.
Under the new rules, the state has also made a licence mandatory for aggregators. Once they get a licence, they would have to agree to a cap on maximum and minimum fares. Currently, such cabs ply on the concept of surge pricing, where fare increases according to the demand during peak hours.
Opposing the state’s scheme, app-based aggregators Ola and Uber had moved against the state to high court immediately, after the state launched the scheme. The hearings in this case are ongoing.
The MMVD department officials said that until December 2017 only 144 drivers had filed online applications for city taxi permits across the state. Of these, the maximum number of 96 applications were received from Mumbai, followed by Pune. Not a single application has been received for taxi aggregator licence, though several companies including Ola-Uber also provide app-based taxi service in the state.
In Mumbai, the highest numbers of applications were received from the Island City (61), followed by Western and Eastern suburbs, which have received 19 and 16 applications respectively. Total 28 applications that include nine from Thane were received from the rest of Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). Outside MMR, the highest applications, which were seven, were received from Pune and Pimpari-Chinchwad cities. Nagpur received just three applications and ten other applications from some other cities in rest of Maharashtra.
Given the poor response in applications, there is no clarity on how the government plans to move forward with this scheme.
Despite repeated attempts, additional transport commissioner Satish Sahastrabuddhe could not be reached to comment on the issue.
Aiming to curb corruption in the process, for the first time the MMVD had moved the entire process online, so that cab drivers would not have to visit RTOs at all. Mahaonline, a joint venture of the state government and Tata Consultancy Services, has developed an online application form through which the cab drivers can pay the permit fee.
The move is expected to eliminate the role of agents and touts at the RTOs, and is time saving. Officials said there are two processes. The first is for those who wish to obtain a new permit to ply an app-based taxi. The second is for those who wish to switch from a tourist taxi to an app-based one. Tourist taxis ply on tourist taxi permits, issued to promote tourism in the state. Drivers would have to pay Mahaonline Rs20 for an application.
The government had appealed to taxi aggregators and drivers to apply online by uploading necessary documents that include police verification report, public service badge, and evidence showing 15 years of domicile, among others. The department was supposed to issue the permits on first-come-first-serve basis, without asking drivers to visit the RTO office.
Applications received till December 2017
96- Total applications in RTOs across Mumbai
28 -Total applications in RTOs across MMR (excluding Mumbai)
20 -Total applications in RTOs across rest of the state
10- Other cities