Maharashtra government bans car-pooling in non-transport vehicles

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has banned the use of non-transport vehicles for aggregation and ride-pooling (car-pooling), citing the safety and security of passengers. As per a government resolution (GR) issued on January 19, non-transport vehicles including two-wheelers, three-wheelers and four-wheelers are banned (for the ride pooling and aggregation) “in order to ensure road safety of the general public and passengers at large”.

Currently, a few aggregators provide app-based bike, auto and car taxi services in major cities of Maharashtra. Some of them provide mobile application-based aggregator service using vehicles, especially two-wheelers, registered under the non-transport category.

Non-transport vehicles are ones with white number plates and are not allowed to be used for commercial purposes.

On January 13, the Bombay High Court pulled up bike-taxi aggregator Rapido for operating without procuring a licence from the Maharashtra government and directed it to suspend the services immediately.

The company has moved the Supreme Court against the HC order.

The GR said the use of non-transport vehicles as transport vehicles (commercial vehicles) is on the rise enormously, which “raises serious practical and security concerns of the passengers and “may cause serious threat to the road safety of the general public and passengers”.

The government also expressed concerns about plying of non-transport vehicles registered outside Maharashtra affecting the economic viability of the vehicles operating on valid permits in the state.

“The number of vehicles registered in the non-transport category is very large, therefore the non-transport vehicles registered outside the state of Maharashtra may also be used for vehicle aggregation and may affect the economic viability of the vehicles operating on valid permits in the State of Maharashtra,” the GR reads.

Stating that if non-transport vehicles can be permitted to be used as transport vehicles, including for aggregation and ride pooling, the GR said it requires “detailed consideration regarding terms and conditions, framework and guidelines”.

The state government has also constituted a committee to study the related issues and to give recommendations. Therefore, it prohibits the pooling of non-transport vehicles by aggregators to ensure the road safety of the general public and passengers, it said.