K’taka to back carpooling only if Centre legalises it – Times of India

Bengaluru: Close on the heels of the Karnataka government asking cab aggregators to stop ridesharing operations or face action, the central government has thrown its weight behind carpooling, saying it helps curb pollution and congestion.
Though the transport department last week claimed the Karnataka On-Demand Transportation Technology Aggregators Rules 2016 don’t allow ridesharing services provided on Ola and Uber platforms, it seemed to have yielded to the demand of some cab drivers who claimed carpooling was denting their incomes.
The Union ministry of road transport and highways (MoRTH) is soon expected to send an advisory to all states to encourage carpooling, according to reports. The initiative comes in the wake of the a Niti Aayog report in 2018 which said ridesharing reduces kilometres travelled and hence eases congestion, reduces pollution and saves fuel.
However, state transport minister DC Thammanna said, “If the Centre wants to encourage ridesharing operations by app-based aggregators, it must amend the Central Motor Vehicles Act, under which such services by organisations like Ola and Uber aren’t allowed.”
“According to the contract aggregators have signed with the government, they are allowed to operate vehicles as contract carriages, which ferry commuters from point to point. If they pick up passengers at intermediate points, it would amount to stage carriage operations, which are not permitted in the agreement,” Thammanna reasoned.
Tanveer Pasha, president of Ola, Uber and TaxiforSure Drivers and Owners Association, which was part of a meeting that preceded last week’s announcement banning ridesharing, said encouraging carpooling would generate unemployment.
Defending the state government’s move, he said ridesharing was neither profitable nor making a remarkable difference to congestion on roads. “The Centre wants to encourage ridesharing by Ola and Uber. But why isn’t it being done for autorickshaws and Tempo Travellers? Ridesharing will not fetch us any profit and may also cause many cab drivers to quit,” he claimed.
Traffic expert MN Sreehari welcomed the Centre’s move and said carpooling needs to be promoted on a larger scale. By 2030, mass transport infrastructure should be in a position to bear 70% of the intra-city travel burden across the country. Carpooling will help reduce the number of individuals using private cars on streets. Bengaluru will also grow in a big way by then, he said.
Thammanna, however, said the state government is all for carpooling and decongestion but ridesharing should be limited to private vehicles. “The present model of ridesharing employed by aggregators is helpful in improving their profit margins but not beneficial to individual cab owners or drivers. So the state government can’t encourage it,” he added.
“There’s no official word from the Centre on its stand favouring ridesharing operations by private cab aggregators. May be, it’s in the discussion stage, but the state government has received no such communication. Till the Centre doesn’t alter the law, the existing rules are applicable,” the minister asserted.
While the government has ordered aggregators to stop ridesharing, operations continue unaffected. Transport officials too had indicated no immediate or extensive action would be taken against the companies.
Box: Global scenario
Shared mobility, particularly carsharing, is on an upswing globally, exhibiting significant growth in all major regions over the past few years. In October 2016, carsharing was operating in 2,095 cities across 46 different countries, serving 15 million passengers with nearly 1,57,000 vehicles, according to a Niti Aayog presentation at the MOVE mobility summit 2018.
This represents a 76% increase in users and 23% in vehicles since 2014. Asia accounts for 58% of the users and 43% of the shared car fleet. The number of passengers opting for the service increased from 81,000 to 87 lakh between 2010 and 2016 and that of vehicles from 4,315 to 67,32930.
Carsharing compliments public transportation and ride sourcing, effectively serving different mobility requirements, the Niti Aayog paper said.
Box: Study blames ridesharing for San Francisco’s congestion
A recent study published by Science Advances claims carpooling is a major contributor to San Francisco’s traffic congestion. Conducted between 2010 and 2016, the study shows weekday hours of delay — increase in time taken to go from point A to point B on weekdays — grew by 62%, indicating that ridesharing services had increased the popularity of taxi services by 12 times.
Another study by a team at the University of Kentucky found vehicles miles increased by 13% with ridesharing as opposed to 7% without it. What was more noteworthy was the average speed across a journey went down by 13% with ridesharing but would only have dropped by 4% without it.


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