Let smaller taxis ply in State but not in city

The Hindu, June 23, 2018

Says B.C. Khatua on the recommendations of a study on the Maharashtra City Taxi Rules 2017
Taxis of 600 cc to 980 cc capacity should first be introduced in various cities of Maharashtra before being introduced in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), said B.C. Khatua, the former head of a committtee looking into fare revision of autos, taxis and app-based aggregator cabs, on Friday.

Mr Khatua made his observations at a conference organised by Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, a non-profit organisation, to discuss the Maharashtra City Taxi Rules (2017).

The organisation had conducted a study on the potential impact of six rules relating to minimum engine capacity, fleet composition, permit fees, fuel type, public service vehicle badge, and colour standardisation on various stakeholders and found that the rules adversely impact consumers.

The study recommended that aggregator cabs with engine capacity of 600 cc to 980 cc, should be allowed in the State. The Maharashtra City Taxi Rules states that aggregator cabs should have a minimum engine capacity of 980 cc.

The Khatua committee had also recommended that vehicles of lower engine capacity operate as taxis, but that it needs to be first introduced in other parts of Maharashtra, according to Mr. Khatua. Only after assessing its impact in the rest of the State should it be introduced to the MMR, he added.

“Allowing cars of lower engine capacity may create conflict in the MMR, since it has legacy taxis and auto rickshaws operating in different price segments,” said Mr. Khatua.

Mr Khatua was part of a panel discussing the study’s findings which included transport expert Sudhir Badami, Ranjit Gadgil from Pune based NGO Parisar, and Sudhakar Yedla, Professor at Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research.

“The agenda of the rules might be the restriction on the number of taxis in order to curtail congestion,” said Mr Yedla stating however, that adding smaller cars will add to the existing congestion.

Mr Badami said “Road congestion is not just an issue of Mumbai but an issue of practically every major city in India. If we do not factor in congestion all regulation becomes immaterial and nothing works,” said Mr Badami.

The Maharashtra City Taxi Rules was announced in March 2017 to regulate app based aggregator cab companies such as Ola and Uber. The two companies have filed petitions in the Bombay High Court challenging the same, where the matter is being heard.

The new rules, if implemented, will make it mandatory for taxi drivers attached to aggregators to get a city license as well a cap on the maximum and minimum fares.

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