CHENNAI: With the Central government last week issuing a notification amending the Motor Vehicle Act, by allowing use of all types of two-wheelers, including electric vehicles as transport vehicles, all eyes are now on the Tamil Nadu government over legalizing bike taxis.
Although the Centre has reiterated that two-wheelers should be allowed for commercial purposes, bike taxis are yet to be permitted. However, these have been put to use for the past few years. “The Centre recently issued a gazette notification allowing battery operated two-wheelers to operate as rental vehicles. Already we have sent a proposal for amending the Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicle Rules to allow bike taxis. The proposal is under consideration of the government,” said a senior transport official.
The State motor vehicle rules categories two-wheelers as non-transport vehicles, and are not permitted for commercial purposes. In 2019, following the crackdown of traffic police and RTOs on bike taxis, the services were temporarily suspended in Chennai. On litigation, the Madras High Court asked the government to consider permitting the bike taxis.
Within a month, the Union government amended the Central Motor Vehicle Act authorizing States to grant permission for app-based cab services. Following this, the transport department held consultation meetings with trade unions of auto rickshaws and call taxis, and sent a proposal for amending legislation for regulating cab aggregators as well as bike taxis.
“Bike taxis are proposed to run with yellow boards. Once TN motor vehicle rules are amended, fare for call taxis and bikes will be fixed. The government has not taken a policy decision yet,” explained the transport official.The proposal had been delayed as a section of call taxi drivers opposed some of the provisions.
P Anbazhagan, president of the Tamil Nadu Call Taxi Drivers and Owners Association, said, “We wanted the government to fix the fare and allow us to operate without affiliating with any aggregators like auto drivers. The proposed rules bring cab drivers under the control of cab aggregators which need to be modified. Bike taxis should not be allowed.”
S Ganesh, a bike taxi driver said, “I used to be penalized by traffic cops at many places for unauthorised operation till March 2020. After imposition of pandemic restrictions, patronage for bike taxis fell drastically. I used to take 15 to 20 trips a day in January 2020, but it reduced to about three to four.”