Explained: How will the Maharashtra government’s ban on carpooling in non-transport vehicles affect travelers?

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The Maharashtra government has banned the use of non-transport vehicles for aggregation and car sharing amid growing concerns for passenger safety. The development came just days after the Mumbai High Court arrested bicycle and taxi aggregator Rapido for operating without a license from the Maharashtra government and ordered it to immediately suspend services.

What are non-transport vehicles?

Non-carriage vehicles are private vehicles that may not be used for commercial purposes. They can be identified by their white number plates. Commercial vehicles (such as taxis) have yellow plates.

What has the government decreed?

Non-transportation vehicles, including two-, three-, and four-wheelers, are prohibited (for the grouping and aggregation of trips) “to ensure the road safety of the general public and general passengers.”

The Maharashtra government has reportedly sent Ola and Uber excuse notices for operating such services illegally.

The government has also expressed concern about the handling of non-transport vehicles registered outside of Maharashtra and that, in turn, affects the economic viability of vehicles operating with valid permits in the state.

How will travelers be affected?

The new order prohibits the pooling of non-carriage vehicles by aggregators. As such, rideshare options with Ola, Uber, and similar companies will face some restrictions.

It is pertinent to note here that Ola and Uber stopped their bike sharing services in the state (removing the app option) after the government circular. Rapido services continue to be suspended in the state. Despite the ban, some platforms, such as the ride-sharing service Bla Bla Cars, continued to operate in the state.

The government has stated that the use of non-transport vehicles as transport vehicles, including for aggregation and ride-sharing, could be allowed after “detailed consideration on terms and conditions, framework and guidelines” .

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