In a move to restrict pollution, Delhi government has released an official statement allowing app-based premium bus services to operate in the capital. The notification however doesn’t come without some restrictions and provisions for the welfare of the community.

The Delhi government has attributed the increased level of ‘air pollutants’ in the capital to pose a serious threat to the health of the residents of the city. To curb the increased number of vehicles on road, Delhi government had introduced the ‘Odd-Even’ rule in two phases in the past four months. The government has decided to allow ‘premium bus services’ to reduce private car traffic on roads and complement the public bus service in the capital.

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The move comes under contrasting conditions.

For one, Delhi government has been stringent in blocking app-based cab services and cracking down on these aggregators to remove ‘surge pricing‘ in an attempt to provide fair services to the users. Uber has also decided to bend down to the commands of the government, remove surge pricing and follow a fixed charge for cab services.

On a second note, a similar situation has appeared in Bangalore, where the authorities and shuttle bus operators continue to remain in a situation of logjam, with the former prohibiting the latter to operate within the city.

But, Delhi transport department’s current move is focused towards reducing pollution and extending the efficient bus aggregation into the Delhi transport services. To be a part of the program, the government has laid down a set of policies to help the premium bus services, like Shuttl and ZipGo.

The progressive attitude of the government towards IT-enabled bus services stipulates that the aggregator should have over 50 AC buses to be considered under the policy reforms. The government won’t decide or interfere in the aggregator’s decision of pricing the services according to their needs and the market demand. However, the government will still keep a check on the aggregators and may prescribe an upper cap on fares(just like it has done for the cab aggregators), if need arises.

The dawn of 2015 saw the rise of many aggregators services, one of them being the shuttle or ‘premium bus services’ like Ola Shuttle, Shuttl or ZipGo. These services were aimed at providing the users with a service to choose their starting point, destination, the number of commuters, a guaranteed seat and much more. But, the Bangalore and Delhi government had previously started seizing the buses and calling these aggregators as unauthorized.

However, the Delhi government has understood the lack of public transport adding to the private commuters and started supporting the ‘premium bus services’ at last. The Bangalore government still hasn’t taken any action to reduce traffic and pollution in the city, which is dubbed as the Silicon Valley of India. The government has laid down a set of rules for the aggregators to operate, which are as follows :

  • The contract will be binding only for ‘premium bus services’ and the fare can only be collected using ‘electronic payment’ while cash payments are not allowed.
  • The aggregator may determine the routes, the time and schedule at which the buses will ply. The web-based aggregator should be disabled once the ride has begun.
  • The app should have a feedback/complaint feature, and take measures to ensure the safety of women passengers by building the ‘panic button’ into the app.
  • The aggregator service is not allowed to cancel the service except upon unavoidable circumstances.
  • Each premium bus service should include at-least two CCTV cameras and also provide free Wi-Fi service to the passengers.
  • The premium buses should run on Natural gas and the most important, they must comply with the government for future updates and actions.

Commenting on this move, Ola said,

Ola welcomes the efforts of the Delhi Government for App-based Premium Bus Services. We look forward to working with the Government in extending a world class daily commute solution from Ola Shuttle, to citizens across the state. Ola Shuttle is Delhi NCR’s most preferred daily commute offering, built with a deep understanding of the local market needs. We are confident that this will go a long way in solving for key issues like congestion, pollution and parking that we are faced with today.

In a nutshell, this new notification gives services like Ola’s Shuttle, Shuttl and ZipGo the freedom to operate in the capital and thus, expand its services int he NCR region without any opposition. The only thing left to see is that if the Bangalore government will finally take cues from the Delhi government’s moves and lift the ban on bus aggregators in the near future.

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