After cabs, it is the turn of bus aggregator services that the Transport Department has trained its guns on. ZipGo, a startup firm that has been running an app-based aggregator shuttle bus service in the city for the past one month, suspended its operations on Saturday after five of its buses were seized for not having a stage carrier permit to run the shuttle service.
This comes at a time when the department still maintains that the cab aggregator services such as Ola and Uber are illegal.
Transport Commissioner Rame Gowda said that operators of shuttle bus services should register with the Transport Department and get a stage carriage permit for every route they want to run the shuttle service. “Not everybody can start running a private bus service in the city,” he said, adding that they would initiate penal action against any such illegal shuttle service.
However, Jitender Sharma, co-founder, ZipGo, lashed out at the department saying they were not criminals to be “hounded” by the authorities. They plan to meet the Transport Commissioner on Monday to convince him of the legality of their operations.
ZipGo has seen nearly 30,000 downloads in the last one month and the firm is running shuttle services during peak hours between select destinations in the IT corridor only during peak hours, and they charge a fixed price of Rs. 29.
“Just because the law as it stands today does not define the operations we are doing, it doesn’t mean what we are doing is illegal. These laws were written when there were no smart phones and such applications were unimaginable. We are not against regulation. But the laws should also catch up with the times,” Mr. Sharma said.
Sustainable transport expert Pawan Mulukutla from Embarq said the aggregator-run bus shuttle service can complement the services of BMTC instead of competing with it. BMTC presently operates a fleet of around 6,500 buses, while the demand is almost its double. “The government is on the one hand unable to meet that demand, while it is also penalising the suppliers. This will not work,” he said.
Stage Carrier Permit
Vehicles with carrier capacity of more than six persons apart from the driver have to take a stage carrier permit which allows them to collect travelling fee from passengers.
Stage carrier permit is given only for a particular route to an operator after studying the traffic flow and demand on a particular route. The permit needs to be taken for every route on which the vehicle is to be operated on
Vehicles that carry passengers for hire on terms of a one-time contract