The transport ministry is not in favour of Niti Aayog’s suggestion that taxi aggregators should be allowed to rope in private cars to increase the availability of vehicles for passengers.
The ministry’s view is that vehicles used for commercial operations are registered as such and there is no such provision in the Motor Vehicles Act to allow private cars to run as app-based taxis, including operations such as ride-sharing and pooling.
“We have to protect the interests of over 5 million taxi owners who have paid commercial duties and permit fees to run taxis. Their employment cannot be endangered and also allowing private cars would be something like doing away with the concept of taxis,” a top government official said.
Currently, commercial vehicles attract higher duties, insurance premium and other permit charges than private vehicles. The official said the safety of passengers using such services also has to be kept in mind. “Even if it’s a lot of convenience, various legal aspects also have to be kept in mind. Even if it’s allowed, some registration mechanism for such cars has to be found,” the official added.
India is examining the use of private vehicles as shared taxis in an effort to reduce car ownership and curb growing traffic congestion in major cities.
Niti Aayog, which is chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has partnered with companies including ride-sharing firm Uber Technologies to assess the economic and environmental impact of using private cars as taxis, a government official involved in the process said.
The idea is to set up a clear and reasonable regulatory framework for ride-sharing so it allows companies to operate in India without ambiguity. Such a move could dent car sales in India, where the ownership ratio is low compared with other countries.
There are about 20 cars for every 1,000 people in India.
Maruti Suzuki, Hyundai Motor and Tata Motors are among the topselling carmakers in the country, which is forecast to be the world’s third-largest car market by 2020. In May, Niti Aayog came up with a 15-year road map for transforming vehicle use.
“India could save as much as $60 billion in energy costs by 2030 and 1 giga-tonne of carbon emissions between 2017 and 2030 by adopting more electric and shared vehicles,” the Niti Aayog report said.
India is also looking to sell only electric cars by 2030. However, creating the requisite infrastructure such as charging stations across the country will be a big challenge.