City Taxis for Delhi- Why we need to be bothered
The government seems to be pushing for smaller vehicles, such as the Nano and Reva for last mile connectivity. In the case of Nano, the engine system is extremely similar to an auto so it is no more or less fuel-efficient then an auto. While this is good news for Uber, Ola and other taxi aggregators; who can utilise the legality of the "city taxi" scheme. The case for autos stand distinct and unheard.
If autos are to be removed from the streets of Delhi, what will happen to those who drive them? Will it be the same people who are shifted to these city taxis? A 100% shift seems unlikely as the license required to operate a 4 wheeler and 3 wheeler are different.
The crucial statement, which reveals much about this program came from transport minister Gopal Rai, "We hope to incentivize the use of Metro with the introduction of these taxis. Perhaps now people will use them to get to the Metro as four-wheelers will breach the psychological boundaries of travelling by an auto rickshaw" (Times Of India, August 2015). When he speaks of a ‘psychological boundary’ related to auto use is he referring to a class based barrier or a safety related one? In all likeliness it is probably a mixture of the two.
Thus, such a system seems most useful to those who don’t have access to a private vehicle at that time, rather then at all times. In this sense the Delhi government is essentially just setting up a system to compete with private taxi companies, while also setting the rules for them.
The main reasoning given for the need to replace autos has been the noncompliance of autos with traffic and meter regulations. Rather then addressing the fundamental issues of why this happens, the government has opted for setting up a completely new system. Without dealing with these issues, it is likely that any new system will soon start facing the same problems. While several studies have been done regarding the issues faced by auto drivers, a simple conversation with an autowallah will reveal why many of them ask for more then the meter fare. Rampant corruption in the entire process of running an auto- from renting, getting a license and actually driving an auto, is one of the key reasons why the meter fare often proves to be inadequate. Every time there is fuel price hike in the market, it takes an auto strike to review the meter prices.
Since the AAP seems to have an ongoing battle with the Delhi police, calling them out on their harassment of auto drivers seems to be a much more useful cause then what rules do and don’t apply to the Delhi government.