Karnataka’s transport department, which was expected to come up with its own policy for carpooling, has put the plan on the back burner after the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) sought inputs from all states on a series of transport and mobility policies.
Of the many policies, carpooling is also set to be discussed as part of the meeting between the states and the Centre.
Carpooling in Bengaluru became a contentious issue after several autorickshaw driver unions sought a ban on the same, citing loss to their business. Quick Ride, Bla-Bla car and Cabify, are some of the prominent carpooling apps operating in the city.
The transport department officials also stated that they will soon commission a study which will be conducted by the department officials and third party consultants to review the concept of carpooling and its pros and cons in the mobility space.
“The department is not coming up with any framework for carpooling as of now. MoRTH has called transport department representatives from all states to discuss policy matters on various transport and mobility issues. Carpooling is one of them. The Centre is expected to come up with a policy soon for carpooling after consulting all the stakeholders. Based on this, we will decide on the operations of carpooling apps,” said Yogesh AM, transport commissioner.
However, Quick Ride, which is one of the most active carpooling apps in Bengaluru still continues to operate in the city. Quick Ride founder and CEO, Nagamalleswara Rao K said, “The government had assured to come up with a framework in October, but there has been no progress since then. There was no meeting held with stakeholders thereafter. As far as operations are concerned, we haven’t faced any issues on the ground.”
Earlier, Karnataka Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy welcomed carpooling by stating that the shared mobility option will be allowed only to an extent of not ‘commercialising’ the platform. In October, he also stated that a framework will soon be designed after consulting legal experts and studying the Central government’s Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines 2020.
The Federation of Private Transport Operators Association had dubbed carpooling apps as “illegal” citing violation of the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Act, which prohibits the commercialisation of white board vehicles.
However, strong advocates of carpooling, including Tejasvi Surya, MP from Bangalore South, argue that the shared mobility concept is nothing but a group of colleagues/neighbors coming together to share/rotate vehicles and share the ride costs. They argue that unlike commercial services, in carpooling, the vehicle owners are already traveling on a predefined route, for their own purpose, and willing to share their empty seats among the group of members from within the same Company/Techpark/Apartment.
According to Quick Ride, over 13 lakh users have registered in the last eight years on the platform and the app currently has over 12,000 daily active users. More than 90 per cent of the users are IT professionals, Nagamalleswara Rao said.