In an attempt to reduce the number of passenger vehicles on roads and subsequently reduce air pollution, the government is pushing for a rather unconventional method. The Centre wants to promote ride sharing on private cars. This would enable carpooling of private vehicles and allow them to operate as taxis through services such as Ola and Uber. However, it is not lost on authorities that permitting this would adversely affect the livelihood of cab businesses that are already struggling to keep up with aggregators like Uber, Ola as well as with self-driving car services like Zoomcar. To protect the livelihood of cab drivers, the government is mulling to cap either the number of rides one can offer or the amount of money one can earn through this.
The Centre is taking inspiration from Singapore and the US, where private car owners can offer upto two share rides per day or only earn upto a certain limit respectively.
In effect, what this entails is that private car owners can charge upto a certain amount as long as it is on a no-profit, no-loss basis. This amount earned cannot be a source of income and will only be to recover fuel and additional costs.
A senior bureaucrat told The Economic Times that the government is reviewing various models, including commercial ride sharing by private car owners. He added that this can be carried on through services such as Ola, Uber and taxi permits may be liberalised so as to convert private cars to be used as taxis. That would, however, require the government's nod, he added.
While a high-level government taskforce suggested liberalising taxi permits, various corridors of the government flagged the impact it would have on businesses of taxi operators.
Not only that, government is also considering extending this move to include motorcycles and autorickshaws.
Sharing ride on private vehicles for profit is not permissible by law. Last month, a good samaritan in Mumbai got fined for offering a ride to people stranded due to the rains. The law makes it illegal to offer rides to strangers. Section 66 (1) of the Motor Vehicle Act 1998 states: No owner of a motor vehicle shall use or permit the use of the vehicle as a transport vehicle in any public place whether or not such vehicle is actually carrying any passengers or goods save in accordance with the conditions of a permit granted or countersigned by a Regional or State Transport Authority or any prescribed authority authorising him the use of the vehicle in that place in the manner in which the vehicle is being used.