Badge rule set to drive cab aggregators out of Mumbai

Written By Unknown on Jumat, 19 Desember 2014 | 22.23

MUMBAI: Services by taxi aggregators in the city could come to an abrupt halt from Friday as authorities ordered that taxi operators can't do business even if one of their drivers is found without a valid Public Services Vehicle Authorization badge.

Most drivers with the aggregators like Uber, Ola and TaxiforSure do not have the badges. Unions say all drivers of radio taxis, black & yellow taxis and autorickshaws have them, a must to ply commercial vehicles on the city's roads. Issued under the Motor Vehicles Act, it certifies that the driver's antecedents have been verified by the police and he is a person domiciled in Maharashtra with at least a year's experience of driving the vehicle.

The decision was communicated at a meeting transport commissioner Mahesh Zagade held with fleet taxi operators and app-based taxi aggregators on Thursday.

"We are not sure if the transport commissioner is going to issue a fresh order. However, if any such action is taken, we will challenge it in the court of law," said the representative of a taxi aggregator, arguing that their drivers have all-India permits.

Sources in the transport department said the badge is necessary to ensure that drivers with criminal background are not driving taxis.

"The condition is not practical. It will take at least a month, if not more, to comply with the conditions to get a badge. First and foremost, it is difficult to find a person who is a resident of the state and willing to work as a driver. This is the reason most of the drivers come from outside the state," complained a taxi operator.

"Of the 25 drivers with us, 15 have badges. The remaining will also get the badges in the few weeks," said Susieben Shah of Priyadarshini Cabs, a women's taxi service.

Some of the commuters were unimpressed. "The government needs to strike a balance so that this safe mode of transport does not shut down. I feel more secure travelling in fleet or app-based taxis than in normal ones," said Swati A, a resident of Thane.

"Zagade said the badge was mandatory requirement as per the Motor Vehicles Act. It was pointed out that we are facilitators who use technology to help commuters book cars. But he refused to accept our argument," said the representative of an aggregator who was at the meeting with the transport commissioner.

Cab aggregators like Uber have been banned in some cities like Delhi and others are mulling curbs after an advisory of the Union home ministry.

Some taxi aggregator employees suggested that perhaps a more reasonable solution could be that their drivers, who already have valid commercial licences and all-India permits, could go through a police verification process to ensure none of them have a criminal background.

Mumbai police has started a verification process with a deadline of December 31 and sought details of their drivers from taxi operators and aggregators.

"Zagade made it clear if any driver is caught driving without a badge, the operator will not be allowed to run his operations," said a transport department source. The commissioner has asked all fleet operators to submit passenger safety plans by December 31 and made it clear the operators will have to enforce the steps by January 15, 2015, added the source. The safety plan includes GPS-based car tracking technology that will set off an alarm if the cab goes off track. aggregators,Public Services Vehicle Authorization badge,Mahesh Zagade,badge rule

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