Suggesting a stricter regulatory regime for app-based taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber, a high-level government-appointed panel today recommended capping of their fares.
“Liberalise city taxi permit scheme. They (aggregators) should follow the rules relating to fares, fuel and safety as mandated by transport department. Upper cap for the fares be fixed by transport department,” the panel of state transport ministers, set up by the Centre to frame stricter traffic and road safety rules, recommended today.
After the two-day meeting at Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh, the group of ministers also said that such taxis may be permitted but they have to aggregate only those taxis which have legally valid permits.
Taxi aggregators have often faced criticism for excessive charging of fares during peak hours in the name of surge pricing.
The ministers’ panel also recommended steps like reserving “at least 20 per cent space in public parking lots for taxis” for improving parking facilities and other public transport vehicles in the cities besides promoting low-cost last mile connectivity solutions that include allowing e-rickshaws and two wheeler taxis “as they are safe and low cost solutions” for the passengers.
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The panel, headed by Rajasthan Transport Minister Yunoos Khan, also suggested allowing “seat sharing in taxis & auto rickshaws” besides strengthening rural transportation that include launch of scheme by the Centre for rural transport vehicles and permits to them.
The Centre has formed the panel for framing stricter traffic and road safety rules under the new road safety bill with a view to check road accidents which claim over 1 lakh lives every year in the country.
The panel has unanimously agreed to framing steeper penalties that include imprisonment for offences like driving by minors, crossing speed limits, drunk driving, talking over phone while driving and jumping traffic lights.
The final recommendations of the panel are expected to be in place later this month.
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For strengthening public transport systems the panel recommended that the Centre may introduce scheme to strengthen state transport undertakings (STU) and exempt STU buses from taxes.
“Deregulate luxury segment to motivate people to shift from personalised transport to public transport,” it said and stressed the need to address the problems of insurance in STU sector.
For public transport in hilly terrains it emphasised the need for creating a sub group to address the problems.
At the same time the GoM advocated higher compensation in case of accidents that include accidental insurances for drivers in third-party insurance and rationalisation of insurance provisions in accident cases besides covering loss to property in cases of accidents.
The recommendations hold much significance as a report on accidents released last week said that an average of 400 persons die every day in road accidents in India which translates i into 17 deaths in 57 crashes per hour and over 54 per cent of those getting killed being in the age group of 15-34 years.
In 2015, there were about 5 lakh road accidents in the country, of which 1.46 lakh people were killed.