A deep dive into Delhi’s ambitious draft scheme, aiming to regulate cab aggregators, enhance passenger safety, and foster a transition to Electric Vehicles (EVs).
Delhi’s Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, has greenlit the much-anticipated Delhi Motor Vehicle Aggregator Scheme 2023. This scheme is set to usher in a new era of mobility in the capital by making mandatory provisions like panic buttons in taxis, integration with emergency response number “112”, and a phased transition to Electric Vehicles (EVs). These changes are not just regulatory measures, but they also pave the way for bike taxis to return to Delhi’s roads.
A Closer Look at the Scheme
The scheme’s primary objective is to regulate cab aggregators and delivery service providers operating in Delhi. Officials have confirmed that the draft scheme is now awaiting approval from the Delhi Lieutenant Governor. After this, the Transport Department will open the scheme for public feedback and comments before it is finalised.
Reintroduction of Bike Taxis
Under this scheme, bike taxis, which were recently banned from plying in the city, are poised to make a comeback. “This scheme prioritises the safety of passengers and ensures timely grievance redressal, while also promoting the use of electric vehicles and reducing pollution levels in the city,” Chief Minister Kejriwal said.
Transition to Electric Vehicles
By transitioning to EVs and promoting electric bike-taxis, the AAP Government aims to curtail pollution levels in Delhi and create new opportunities for employment and economic growth. The Motor Vehicle Aggregator Scheme 2023 will apply to any individual or entity that operates, on-boards or manages a fleet of motor vehicles for passengers or for delivery services.
Ensuring Passenger Safety and Service Quality
The scheme focuses on passenger safety during trips and the service quality of cab aggregators while also encouraging the transition to EVs. Mandatory panic buttons in vehicles and integration with the Delhi Police’s emergency number “112” are the scheme’s primary safety measures.
Grievance Redressal and Vehicle Fitness
The scheme also includes a mechanism to ensure timely consumer grievance redressal by the service providers, enforcement of vehicle fitness, pollution control and validity of permits. It provides for driver remedial training in instances where a driver’s performance is poor.
The Historic Transition to EVs
An intriguing aspect of the scheme is the mandatory transition of commercial vehicles from conventional vehicles to electric vehicles. This phased mandate for fleet operators to transition their fleets to EVs will be a first for any state government in India. This mandate will only apply to a certain percentage of new on-boarded vehicles over a period of four years to avoid any sudden impact on existing livelihoods.
For instance, five per cent of the new on-boarded cars need to be electric in the first six months of the scheme. After four years from its notification, all new commercial two-wheelers and three-wheelers will need to be EVs. Similarly, after five years, all new commercial four-wheelers need to be EVs. The scheme envisages that all aggregators and delivery service providers will transition to electric fleets by April 1, 2030.
Regulatory Provisions for Bike-Taxis and Rent-a-Bike Services
The scheme lays the foundation for a regulatory provision for bike-taxis and rent-a-bike services. Given that Delhi has never allowed bike-taxis to operate in the city, the scheme provides for such services to be regulated. As a new business opportunity, the scheme ensures that all bike-taxis and two-wheeler renting services in the city shall only be via electric two-wheelers.
The “Polluter Pays” Principle
In a strategic move, the scheme adopts the “polluter pays” principle. This principle will result in a significantly higher per-vehicle licence fee for a conventional vehicle than an electric vehicle. For instance, there may be no licence fee for an electric taxi, but for a CNG taxi, it may be `650. Further, all licence fees and penalties under the scheme will be credited to the State EV Fund, which will support all EV promotional activities.
A Milestone for Delhi
Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot considers the Motor Vehicle Aggregator scheme a milestone for Delhi. He said, “This is happening for the first time in India when a state has given targets to the aggregator to electrify their fleets and regulate such service providers in the city, with the goal of ensuring passenger safety and reducing pollution with sustainable public transportation in the city.
“We have introduced a polluter pays principle, where onboarding of any electric vehicle will have zero licence fee. The scheme also lays the foundation for a regulatory provision for bike taxis (two-wheeler ride-hailing services) and rent-a-bike services,” he added.
The Motor Vehicle Aggregator Scheme 2023 marks a significant step towards cleaner and safer public transportation in the national capital. With mandatory panic buttons, a commitment to Electric Vehicles, and stringent regulations for cab aggregators, the scheme is a holistic approach to address the challenges in Delhi’s transport sector.
In this era of rising pollution and urban congestion, such proactive steps are not just welcome but necessary. However, the success of the scheme will depend on its effective implementation and how it navigates the challenges in transitioning from conventional vehicles to EVs. For now, the scheme promises a greener, safer, and smarter future for Delhi’s roads.