CHENNAI:To regulate the call taxis and cab aggregators and fix tariffs in Tamil Nadu, the state Transport Department has drafted rules, amending the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Act, 1989.According to the draft rules of the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles (Regulations and Control of Call Taxi/ Call Autorickshaw Operator), sent to state government for approval, call taxis in Tamil Nadu should have an agreement with call taxi operators or aggregators to get the permit.
“To operate a call taxi or call autorickshaw, the applicant has to have an agreement with the cab operator through an affidavit. The same will be endorsed by the RTOs after collecting the nominal fee. In turn, the cab operator should obtain the licence for call taxis by submitting security deposits. The minimum number of vehicle per operator should be 100 and maximum can go above 1000,” said the rules.The cab operator should submit a security deposit of Rs 1 lakh for call taxi and Rs 30,000 for autorickshaw to get the licence upto 100 vehicles. For operating more than 100 vehicles and upto 500, Rs 3 lakh should be deposited for call taxi and Rs 90,000 for auto.
Currently, call taxis are operated in Tamil Nadu with tourist permit and the drivers obtain the same individually from transport offices.Besides, the drivers should obtain six-digit unique driver identity number (UDIN) issued by RTOs. The licencing authority will verify the driving licence, badge (authorised for transport vehicle) and police verification certificate. In addition, the UDIN will be granted only if the age of the vehicle should be less than eight years.
The proposed move to make the call taxi drivers get affiliated with cab operators was aimed at fixing responsibility to ensure the safety of passengers and regulating the drivers. “The cab operators must ensure that drivers hold the UDIN with valid records. And, they have to impart courteous manners to drivers to treat passengers well and also monitor the vehicles to ensure that they are neat and tidy,” read the rules.
The cab operators also have to maintain a web portal with details of ownership of vehicles, address, insurance and fare structure. The portal has to submit the statement with details of call taxi drivers before the Transport Department before 10th of every month. For improving passenger safety and to ensure that passengers are not fleeced by the drivers, call taxis should be fitted with GPS tracking devices, panic button and electronic fare metres provisioned with receipt printer.
The draft rules have also prescribed that taxi drivers must wear a uniform of white trouser and white shirt with logo of the taxi operator printed visibly on the left side of shirt pocket. They must always carry valid police verification certificate.
Official sources in Transport department said the state government will not be in a position to fix the tariff for call taxis as there was no provision either in the Motor Vehicles Act 1988 or the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Act, 1989. “Once the Motor Vehicles Act is amended, the government may constitute a committee to fix tariffs. The amendment will abolish surge pricing by cab aggregators completely,” said the official.
Besides, officials pointed out that the Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Bill 2017 introduced by the Union government was passed in Lok Sabha last year and is yet to passed in Rajya Sabha. “The Bill has provisions to regulate the aggregators. The draft rules proposed by the Transport Department have the same provisions of the Bill proposed by the Union government. Accordingly, the call taxi services will be regulated,” said the officer.
K Arumugam Nainar, secretary, Tamil Nadu State Transport Employees Federation, has opposed the draft rules. “The drivers will be exploited by operators, if they are made to obtain the licence through them... The existing Motor Vehicles Act clearly prescribes that autos, cars and buses are public transport modes and the State government has the authority to fix tariffs. We want the government to fix tariffs for the call taxis as well,” he stated.
Wheels of change
Call taxi driver to have an agreement with cab operator through an affidavit
The same will be endorsed by the RTOs after collecting the nominal fee
A operator should have 100 vehicles
Drivers should get six digit unique driver identity number (UDIN) issued by RTOs
The vehicle should be less than eight years old
Cars should have panic button
The cab operator should impart the courteous manners to drivers. It should also maintain a web portal with details of ownership of vehicles, address, insurance and fare structure
Operator should submit the statement with details of call taxi drivers before the Transport department before 10th of every month
Drivers must wear a uniform of while shirt and white trouser
Tariff for call taxi can be fixed only if the MVA is amended
Unions argue that the state can fix tariffs for call taxis as the existing Act prescribes car as a public transport