Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Panel for capping of fares for app-based taxi services like Ola, Uber

App-based cab operators such as Ola and Uber will be allowed to aggregate should follow rules relating to fares, fuel and safety, says panel

A panel of state transport ministers on Monday recommended allowing app-based taxi aggregators such as Uber and Ola to operate in the country with appropriate regulation.

The group of ministers (GoM) set up by Union road minister Nitin Gadkari to frame stricter traffic and road safety rules recommended capping fares of taxi aggregators and liberalizing city taxi permit schemes. The app-based cab operators will be allowed to aggregate only those cabs with valid taxi permits, and they should follow rules relating to fares, fuel and safety, the panel headed by Rajasthan transport minister Yunoos Khan recommended.

It also suggested reserving a fifth of the space in public parking lots for taxis and backed introduction of e-rickshaws and two-wheeler taxis citing their safety and ability to provide affordable last-mile connectivity.

The GoM was formed in April to suggest solutions to various problems in road transport, and steps to improve road safety and ease of transport. It was also asked to suggest reforms in the sector to improve mobility.

The GoM also suggested exempting state transport undertakings from all taxes and addressing their insurance-related problems. The panel also recommended deregulation of luxury buses to help wealthier travellers to shift from private cars to public transport.

A road ministry official who attended a two-day meeting of the committee in Dharamshala said the panel has suggested setting up a special cell for road accidents in the health ministry and cashless treatment for accident victims on all national highways.

“This will be very helpful and immediate medical attention can be given by the hospital units without bothering about the payments," he said, adding the GoM also recommended insurance cover for loss of property in accident cases.

The committee has previously submitted two interim reports suggesting various amendments in traffic laws and rules such as inclusion of Good Samaritan guidelines under the Motor Vehicles Act, permitting issue of driving licence after 16 years for gearless scooters below 100cc and doing away with the dress code for truck drivers.

In the backdrop of road deaths rising in 2015 to a provisional figure of 146,000, the panel also sought to create a National Road Safety and Traffic Management Board.

The committee said the transport sector still has many archaic rules and practices in need of urgent reform to support economic growth. Another recommendation is to give powers to the state to fix the fees and charges for administering the provision of MV act.

The GoM also recommended that all powered vehicles whether electric or mechanical should be included in the definition of motor vehicles, which will include e-scooters and any other powered vehicle.

The road ministry now plans to introduce the new Road Transport and Safety bill to strengthen road safety in India and improve ease of transport.