Roundtable in Mumbai Facilitates Conversations around the City’s New Taxi Policy
On October 31, 2015 WRI India India Sustainable Cities hosted a roundtable that provided a forum for various stakeholders in the Intermediate Public Transport (IPT) Sector to comment on the new City Taxi Scheme 2015. This new policy, submitted in October, was drafted by the Maharashtra state to create a level playing field for black-and-yellow taxis, taxis fleets and aggregators. The scheme proposed that online taxi aggregators such as Uber, Ola, and TaxiForSure be regulated under the Motor Vehicles Act. However, taxi aggregator services have argued that the scheme unfairly advantages black and yellow taxis, instead of commuters.
Addressing this tension, our India team stressed the need to establish a forum to discuss new mobility trends, like shared mobility. Key participants included Smt Sonia Sethi (IAS, Transport Commissioner), Smt Dr. Ekroop Caur, (IAS, Managing Director, BMTC, Bangalore), Uber, Meru Cabs, Ola Cabs, Tab Cab, Bookmycab, and other bus, auto rickshaw and taxi operators. Below are suggestions that were made at the roundtable:
Stakeholder Suggestions for City Taxi Scheme 2015
• Create a category of semi-commercial vehicles, which integrates existing vehicles into the system more efficiently.
• Market forces should determine fares, provided enough suppliers are available. An upper cap can be placed on market fares after a multi-stakeholder discussion.
• The color of vehicles used by aggregators should be uniform, allowing greater interoperability and granting drivers the ability to move between companies more easily.
• Regulation should be more dynamic and in touch with changing transport technologies.
• Drivers converting their vehicles into private vehicles (if they did not wish to be a part of an aggregator) should not be allowed. This will increase congestion levels.
• The limit of investment should be raised from 50 lakhs to 5 crores.
• The new 25,000 permits that will be issued should be auctioned off, as is done with other limited resources.
• The allowed age limit for taxi fleets is too high considering the poor maintenance and heavy usage of vehicles. A consciousness for maintenance needs to be instilled.
• Minimal educational qualifications should be regulated, as driver need to know their service area. The licensing process should include a test of knowledge on local locations.
• Definition of aggregator should be expanded to include buses.
• Mumbai should include service benchmarks in the scheme.
• Fares should take into account speed of the vehicle.
Maintaining the Local Dialogue
The group agreed to form the Mumbai Innovative Mobility Forum, a group that would meet more frequently with a relevant and concerted agenda on mobility in the city. These meetings would be facilitated by WRI India Sustainable Cities.
Moving forward, the group will tackle a variety of topics currently challenging the shared transport industry. For example, the Forum will discuss the livelihoods of drivers, including higher incomes for drivers, the need for drivers to own assets, lack and safety of women drivers, skill improvement, and additional research on the permit cap. Beyond driving conditions, the Forum may also home in on regulations, such as data sharing for GPS, updating policies to reflect changes in technology, and how the scheme can be improved.