While the Government of India moved step ahead by issuing a separate advisory for on-demand technology platforms last week, meanwhile, the Government of Maharashtra has released a draft notification of its City Taxi Scheme, 2015 which is going to change the way the rider and the on-demand cab services will work in the city.
The new proposed Scheme, consists of number of clauses/regulations which will have a negative impact on consumer choice and freedom, these include:
- The licensee shall maintain a fleet of minimum 1000 and maximum 4000 taxis either owned or through an agreement with individual taxi permit holders. However, maximum 2500 permits will be issued to a licensee in first phase.
- The licensee shall comply with the Induction schedule for Taxi as given below — i) 250 Taxi at the time of grant of license; ii) 500 taxi within three months of grant of license. iii) 1000 Taxi within 6 months of grant of license. iv) Remaining taxi in 9 months of grant of license.
– This will lead to reduced availability, longer ETAs and higher fares for the riders.
- The licensee shall ensure that each Taxi is equipped with temperature control device in proper working order and is fitted with working electronic digital fare meter on the front panel (dashboard).
- Taxi shall be fitted with GPS and GPRS based tracking device, printer, and a display panel showing the path traversed and total distance covered. The device shall be in constant communication with the control room of the licensee while the taxi is on hire. In case of closure of the said GPS, the reason thereof is to be recorded by the licensee along with the duration of such closure. The minimum specification of the devices will be prescribed by Transport Department and may be changed from time to time.
- The Licensee shall charge fare and comply all other conditions as prescribed by the concerned transport authority from time to time. Fare will be decided as per cost of vehicle / engine capacity of the vehicle.
- A LED display panel visible from both front and rear should be installed on the roof of the Taxi to indicate that the vehicle is a Taxi and whether it is available (green indicator) or occupied (red indicator). The dimensions of the LED display panel shall confirm to those prescribed by the State Transport Authority from time to time.
Speaking about this new scheme, Uber, in its blog said,
The Scheme has been proposed under pressure by certain parties having vested interests – as a measure to counter the rapidly increasing adoption of on-demand transportation platforms that have proven to be a more efficient, affordable and convenient option over traditional fleet/ radio taxis. This Scheme for all intents and purposes, erroneously assumes fleet/ radio taxis, black and yellow taxis and vehicles on on-demand technology platforms to be a part of the same category of commercial vehicles.
This new draft comes in a month after Mumbai-based Kaali-Peeli taxis have gone on strike demanding ban on Uber, Ola and TaxiForSure. Over 10,000-15,000 taxi drivers participated in this agitation, which was started by Swabhiman Taxi-Rickshaw Union, led by Nitesh Rane, son of Congress leader Narayan Rane.
In a separated development, Uber driver partners in Mumbai and Pune were assaulted, their cars were damaged and the company-owned equipment (mobile phones) were taken away by the protestors some time back, as mentioned by Uber in its blog.