Eyes firm on revenue, govt loses grip on taxis

Eyes firm on revenue, govt loses grip on taxis

Vehicle population in Bengaluru is about to touch 80 lakh in the next three months.

The Transport Department maintains a tight grip on autorickshaws by limiting the number of permits in the city, but there has been no attempt to restrict taxi cabs, as governments have focused more on revenue from taxi permits than congestion on roads.

The department has restricted rickshaw permits to 1.25 lakh under Section 74 (3) (a) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988. But the limit on contract carriage has not been extended to taxi cabs.

Statistics by the Regional Transport Office (RTO) puts the number of taxicabs at 1.1 lakh, but the situation on the ground is different. “Cabs registered across the state are allowed to operate in the city as they tie up with aggregators like Ola and Uber. City permit is not mandatory for them. We think there are about 2 lakh taxi cabs in the city,” RTO sources said.

Vehicle population in the city is about to touch 80 lakh in the next three months. But top officials in the government said the RTO has been directed to focus on revenue generation. “Every year, a higher revenue target is set for the department, where the main source of income is registration and permit fee. Regulating taxi permits is possible as we can’t ban registration of private vehicles. But such moves will hit revenue,” the official said.

A majority of taxis run with state permit, where each vehicle brings Rs 1,736 tax every year besides the Rs 500 permit fee once in five years. Autorickshaws bring nothing more than Rs 2,750 of lifetime tax, hence the limit.

For 2017-18, the department had a target to collect Rs 5,561.62 crore, compared to the Rs 4,736.80 crore the previous financial year. For 2018-19, the target has gone up to Rs 5987.82 crore.

The transport department’s draft notification to permit 30,000 additional autos has drawn flak from drivers. “At a time when existing autorickshaws are hardly running beyond 7 km per day, what is the need for more? Many are selling permits for Rs 30,000 in the name of permit transfer. The government should restrict both cabs and autorickshaws,” said Autorickshaw Drivers’ Union general secretary Rudramurthy.