Amid reports that the Delhi government will soon ban “shared ride” services of app-based taxi aggregators, Ola and Uber have started mounting pressure on the Centre to amend the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

“Shared ride services are violating the permit conditions provided to these app-based cabs in the city. Cab aggregators are introducing and running these facilities in a fancy way. They have been introducing everyday a new variant of shared rides, which is illegal. The government was never consulted before the launch of any such services,” a senior Road and Transport department official said.

The cab operators are given contract carriage licence which allows them to pick up passengers from a given point and drop them at the desired destination of the individual who hires the cab. The aggregators of these cabs are not allowed to take any passenger in the cab midway. Only an individual or a group can book such cabs.

“We have pleaded with the Central government to amend the Motor Vehicles Act at the earliest so that the smooth rides of city commuters are ensured. Shared cab rides are proving to be beneficial for the riders and they have helped in reducing the substantial number of cars plying on Delhi’s road. Pool taxis ensure riders have a pocket-friendly comfortable journey. ‘Shared ride’ services provided by app-based taxis also conform with the initiatives of the Delhi government and Centre for greater car pooling in the city,” a spokesperson of Uber said on the condition of anonymity. However, an official statement of Uber said “Our services are within the law.”

Although the Delhi government has not announced any action or initiative to curb shared taxi rides, any such decision will become very difficult to implement as the number of such cabs in the city is large. As per a rough estimate, Delhi has almost 60,000 app-based cabs. According to transport watchdog agencies, the ban on shared rides will harm both the parties—the riders and cab aggregators. “With the given traffic management infrastructure, it will become impossible to keeping tabs on almost 60,000 cabs plying across the NCR,” said Sudhansu Verma, an RTO official.

The proposed move to ban cab pool services is said to be in line with the Karnataka government’s decision of banning all such shared ride services in the state.

Meanwhile, cab users have shared their disappointment over any proposed move to ban pool services in the city. “Shared cabs are pocket-friendly; therefore, the government should promote such ride services and ensure the safety of passengers commuting in these cabs so that people can use them comfortably,” said Ramanuj Mishra, a resident of Dwarka.

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