Maharashtra Drafts Regulations For Uber, Ola & Others; Govt May Control Fares, Green Fuel Usage Mandatory
Under pressure from local taxi unions and autorickshaw owners, Govt. of Maharashtra has finally issued a revised draft of Maharashtra City Taxi Rules, 2016, which aims to regulate and control all taxi based apps within the state.
This new draft has been designed to be pro-consumer, taking care of issues such as security of passengers, and accountability of any untoward incident while the cab is in use. However, some of the regulations seems anti-aggregator as well, for instance empowering the Govt. to control fares and plans to make it mandatory for all cabs to only use green fuel (CNG, electric), instead of diesel.
The revised guidelines would be applicable to all taxis running in the state, and not specifically for app-based aggregators. However, there are some sections which deal exclusively for app-based taxi hailing services like Uber and Ola, and some of the regulations are really interesting.
For the first time, Maharashtra Govt. has clearly defined who an aggregator of taxi services is, as the draft states: “Aggregator means a person who is an operator or an intermediary/marketplace who canvasses or solicits or facilitates passengers for travel by a taxi or any other public service vehicle and who connects the passenger/intending passenger to a driver of a taxi or any other public service vehicle through phone calls, internet, web-based services or GPS/GPRS-based services whether or not any fare, fee, commission, brokerage or other charges are collected for providing such services.”
Highlights from Maharashtra City Taxi Rules, 2016
– All taxi apps need to apply for licenses in order to offer their services within Maharashtra. The Govt. will provide licenses to only those companies which are registered under Indian Partnership Act, 1932, or Companies Act, 2013
– This permit shall be called “App-Based City Taxi Permit”; and a fees of Rs 1 lakh would be applicable, valid for 5 years
– All licensee should adhere to the rules and regulations mentioned under Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, and the Information Technology Act, 2000, and the rules made thereunder.
– The licensee should strictly adhere to rules highlighted under Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013.
– A 24*7 control room needs to be present for every license holder of taxi apps, which should be adequately staffed for any emergency need.
– The drivers of all taxis (app and non-app based) should wear a designated uniform prescribed by the Govt, which can also have the design pattern of the said company. Besides, the drivers should have a valid commercial license and wear a badge of public service vehicle driver.
– Taxi aggregator companies like Uber/Ola needs to submit a bank guarantee of Rs 50 lakh per 1000 vehicles. Individual permits for vehicles under 1400 cc would be Rs 25,000 and for vehicles above 1400 cc, it would be Rs 2.61 lakh
– For vehicles under 2000 cc, State Transport Department can fix a limit for taxi fares; whereas no such limit would be imposed for 2000+ cc vehicles
– In case a crime has been committed, both the driver and the related app based company would be held responsible
– The draft also mentions that any vehicle working as a taxi in Maharashtra should only operate on green fuel such as LPG, CNG, electric, Hybrid or unleaded petrol. This can spell some trouble as thousands of vehicles can be out of business because of this rule
State Govt. has invited comments, feedback from citizens on the draft, which can be sent at Transport Commissioner’s office in Bandra (East) or on email (feedback.tpt-mh @gov .in) till November 5.