The daily commuters residing in Bengaluru, who are already tormented by the alarming increase in traffic congestion in the city, are in for another shock. The transport department of Bengaluru has issued a circular, according to which using private vehicles for commercial purposes, such as carpooling apps like QuickRide, has become illegal. Offenders in this case will face heavy penalties, including the suspension of the registration certificate of the vehicle involved or a fine of Rs 10,000 on the owner of the vehicle.
According to the circular issued by the transport department of Bengaluru, modern-day carpooling apps are breaking the law, as private vehicles cannot be used for commercial purposes, including the basic practice of carpooling. The action has been taken by the transport department of Bengaluru following repetitive complaints by taxi driver unions. As a result, the Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) of Bengaluru, including Electronic City, HSR Layout, Devenahalli, KR Pura, Jayanagar, and Yelahanka, have been directed to take action against the use of private vehicles for carpooling.
In addition to the circular issued by the transport department of Bengaluru, a member of the Karnataka Rajya Sabha has also commented on the functioning of carpooling apps without any license. He added that instead of using private vehicles for carpooling, vehicle owners should register their vehicles as taxis to obtain a permit for commercial purposes.
Public says they want Carpooling apps
However, the opinions of the general public of Bengaluru regarding carpooling apps differ from the transport department. According to them, using carpooling apps has made their daily commutes more convenient, helping them avoid heavy traffic jams, which have become a nuisance for the city’s residents. It also helps save money spent on daily commutes.
According to data released by the transport department of Bengaluru, there are currently more than 1.1 crore vehicles on the city’s roads, with 73.6 lakh being two-wheelers and 23.5 lakh being four-wheelers. Most of these vehicle owners are daily office-goers looking to ease their daily commutes, for which carpooling has emerged as an effective solution.
Apart from private companies, a few government agencies have also come forward to support the concept of carpooling. It will be interesting to see how the Karnataka government addresses this concern and develops a balanced policy.
Which are the popular Carpooling apps of Bangalore?
Quick Ride is one of the most popular carpooling apps in Bangalore. The founder and CEO of Quick Ride, KNM Rao told Times of India that carpooling is restricted to twice a day, and only on pre-published routes. Interestingly, several government agencies have been encouraging commuters to use carpooling to reduce congestion in the city.
Can this happen in other metros too?
Legally, the government is in the right. And so yes, governments of Delhi and Mumbai too can introduce such restrictions or outright bans on carpooling. Bangalore though is where it is most popular due to high vehicle density. It also depends on the strength of the taxi drivers’ unions and radio taxi services – if they are politically influential, they can request the government to restrict or ban carpooling and the government might go along with them.
This risk would go away only with state governments formulating a clear policy on carpooling, balancing the need to reduce congestion with that of the right to livelihood of taxi cab drivers.