E-Rickshaws: Taking Delhi by storm
By Umang Jain New Delhi| April 16, 2014
The last two post liberalization decades in India have seen a tremendous upsurge in the number of motor vehicles with new models of automobiles being launched every year. Much in the same way, a new form of para-transit has emerged-popularly known as e- rickshaws or battery operated rickshaws. These have left officials in a quandary as they do not come under the purview of the Delhi Motor Vehicles Act which specifies that“vehicles with motor power of less than 250W and speed less than 25 kmph are non-motorized vehicles”. Technically, an e rickshaw is powered by a battery of less than 250 watts and operates at a speed less than 25 kmph.
However, in reality, these vehicles operate by using a battery of more than 800 W, which should bring them under the purview of the Motor Vehicle Act. Since they are not under the purview of the Act, these e-rickshaws do not carry number plates while drivers do not need to have a valid driver’s licence which poses a serious traffic and security hazard to the occupants and to the road users at large.
Economics of operation In Delhi, these erickshaw have sprung up all over the city, in particular at metro stations providing yet another feeder service to the metro system. These vehicles carry 5-6 passengers at a time,at fixed rates varying between Rs10-20. These low emission vehicles run nearly to 50 Km on being charged for 4-5 hours and have a very low operating and maintenance cost. It is reported that typically, each e rickshaw generates a revenue in excess of Rs 700 per day.
Some of the manufacturers of these rickshaws are Saarthi, Mayuri, Real, Raahi. These rickshaws have been operational for the past year or so. Newspaper reports claim that ridership of these rickshaws is about 4000.
Conclusion In a city starved for adequate feeder services to mass transit, erickshaws have emerged as yet another mode that is fast gaining popularity There is an urgent need to amend the Motor Vehicle Act and recognize the erickshaw as a motor vehicle and mainstream these operations which would benefit the society at large.