Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has accepted the recommendations of its Committee for Taxi Policy Guidelines to promote urban mobility
Policy brings wide variety of taxi services, including aggregators, within a regulatory framework and establishes clear rules for their operations and management
Taxis and shared mobility an important step forward to reduce dependence on personal vehicles, improve access to public transport systems, reduce pressure of parking, and improve last mile connectivity
New Delhi, December 19, 2016: Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has welcomed the first-ever comprehensive Taxi Policy Guidelines to promote urban mobility, released by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. The Ministry has accepted the recommendations of its committee that has proposed a suitable regulatory framework to promote shared mobility, liberalise existing taxi permit systems and encourage new forms of urban mobility to create reliable alternatives to car ownership. These guidelines provide the common framework for detailed regulations for taxi operations in cities and states.
Says Anumita Roychowdhury, executive director-research and advocacy, CSE: “This brings aggregators, radio taxi operators and city taxis under a uniform, fair and transparent regulatory framework.”
The recommendations have attached primacy to shared mobility over private mobility to control pollution and congestion. Shared assets -- using cars as taxis instead of personal vehicles -- help in disincentivising private car ownership. These systems are becoming attractive globally as these help to reduce search and waiting time; bring more certainty and reliability in waiting time; and improve last mile connectivity.
This move towards a comprehensive taxi policy has been catalysed by the recent controversy in Delhi when a large number of taxis registered under All India Tourist Permits (AITP) and with aggregator companies were found to be flouting clean fuel norms. There was also no effective accountability framework for the newly formed aggregator companies. While examining these issues in Delhi NCR, the Environment Pollution (Prevention and Control) Authority had asked for setting a ceiling and floor to the pricing structure; removal of restrictions on number of permits for taxis; and a parking policy for taxis.
Key highlights of the guidelines
Remove restrictions on permits for taxis: The state governments will have to remove current restrictions on permits for taxis and facilitate unhindered grant of taxi permits. City taxis, AITP taxis and aggregators can do point-to-point services in cities.
All taxi services will have to adhere to local fuel quality requirements: While taxis under AITP can ply inside the city, they will have to comply with clean fuel requirements in those cities. For example, in Delhi and the NCR, all taxis will have to ply on CNG.
License and permit conditions will apply to all taxi services including aggregators: All taxi services will have to comply with the stipulations of the Transport Department related to safety, security and permit conditions.
Specific conditions for taxi aggregators: Taxi aggregators should get their App validated from Standardisation Testing and Quality Certification or any other agency authorised by the Ministry of Electronic and Information. Aggregators will have to firewall personal data of the passengers for security reasons. Aggregators should have physical presence in the states of operations. They should set up grievance redressal mechanisms as well as emergency response centres. Their App should also have adequate safety features related to sharing of ride details and express consent of passengers for seat sharing etc. Violation of rules by taxi operators and drivers will be strictly penalised according to law.
Policy on fare pricing: Range of dynamic pricing will be allowed to match demand and supply. The Ministry recommends maximum tariff up to three to four times the minimum rate. The state governments can fix that accordingly.
Reserve free parking for taxis and charge personal vehicles high: Parking for taxis will be reserved in at least 20 per cent of all public parking lots, free of cost, and to compensate the loss of revenue, prices of the remaining spots can be raised by 25 per cent or more. This is an important step forward.
Policy provides for bike sharing, e-rickshaws and two-wheeler sharing for last mile connectivity
Global experience with shared mobility shows good results
Globally, evidence is mounting to show how taxis and shared transportation reduce dependence on cars, lead to modal shifts and reduce congestion.
The MORTH report has cited a study by the University of California, Berkeley which finds that each shared car helps in removing nine to 13 vehicles from the road. Similarly, the International Transport Forum found that in Lisbon, when cars on roads were converted to shared assets, congestion reduced by 37 per cent and parking space freed up by 90 per cent.
There are other evidences as well. According to a 2016 survey by the American Public Transportation Association for seven cities in USA -- Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, DC -- 20 per cent respondents have postponed buying a car, 18 per cent have decided not to purchase a car, 21 per cent have sold one and did not replace it, and 18 per cent (net) have spent less on transportation overall.
According to Copenhagen Economics, Stockholm, the combined effect of app-based taxi services reduced the number of daily car trips by up to 37,000 trips (3 per cent of the total) in 2015 and led to a reduction in the total number of active cars in Stockholm by up to 18,000 (5 per cent of the total).
Vienna has several car sharing services, and some reserve curb space around stations next to the taxi stands. Also, in Hannover, parking space is allocated to accommodate taxis. A pilot called ASTAX taxis use public bus stops and drive like the bus, from stop to stop. This serves low demand areas.
A step forward
As travel demand grows and explodes in cities, a wide variety of taxi services -- especially IT-enabled App-based systems -- are emerging to cater to this demand. Says Roychowdhury: “Regulating these high frequency services for accountability and compliance is necessary for safe, reliable and affordable services. The state governments should quickly build on these and notify the rules for efficient and organised deployment of taxi services and shared mobility. This can help to move people from cars to public transport.”
For more on this, please contact Souparno Banerjee, firstname.lastname@example.org, 9910864339.