Abhay Damle, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport & Highways opines that shared mobility is the future and India cannot be left behind
You are convinced that the number of personal cars will get reduced sometime in future, and shared vehicles will take over. What is your vision on this trend?
Well, the number of personal car ownership may not go down, but for the convenience of driving on the road owing to congestion and parking problems, a person will find it more convenient to hire a cab or get into public transport. There is much focus on improving public transport quality in all the states by the governments, and new technological solutions are coming into the domain now for shared mobility in terms of taxis too. So people are finding it more convenient to go in for those solutions rather than having their own cars. Gradually, once the convenience of shared mobility comes into picture through technology it will become easy, the regulations will get defined and we will have a robust system to take care of the safety and security of the passengers. Probably a person will find it more comfortable to ride in a shared car or public transport vehicle rather than driving in his own car through the congestion, look for parking spaces and go through all the hassles. That is where the world is going, and in my opinion that is where India will also be going.
Is the government coming out with some regulations and policies to streamline the entire process for the aggregators?
When we talk of the aggregators, we have to appreciate that they brought the demand and the supply together. Earlier, though there were taxis in the market, they did not get much business. The customers used their own vehicles. What aggregators have helped in achieving is that now the taxis are utilized in a more efficient and productive manner, and since the consumers find them convenient, they are also willing to shift from private mobility to shared mobility. So technology has really played a big game here.
“Technology cannot be regulated on a real-time basis. It will always be ahead of the regulations. But then, the government is looking at creating a liberal regulation, where some kind of licensing regime would be required for the aggregators”.
Technology cannot be regulated on a real-time basis. It will always be ahead of the regulations. But then, the government is looking at creating a liberal regulation, where some kind of licensing regime would be required for the aggregators. However, it will be to facilitate safe and secure public mobility transport solutions for the citizens and to ensure that at the same time, citizens are not fleeced. The fares and other issues also need to be taken care of.
You have been a part of our knowledge conferences and you have seen that the technologies and solutions of the world are exhibited at the stalls at the twin shows here. How important do you find such shows to be and what do you expect from them?
Technology meets practical implementation at these kind of seminars. These forums are very important from the perspective of exchange and flow of knowledge to the practical side and I must congratulate TrafficInfraTech in organising this show. We have seen a lot of new things and also that there is a lot of progressive approach in transport and in mobility reforms. So that’s good. All the stakeholders are looking forward, and probably accepting to move towards, a domain of efficient and productive mobility as a solution instead of looking at a vehicle for just transporting. That is very important and these kind of seminars, and particularly the inaugural seminar that I attended, have really helped in that.
Normally the market moves much faster than the government when it comes to different technologies and solutions… What pace is the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways keeping with the market at large?
We understand that technology moves much faster and the regulations do take time. Therefore, in the Motor Vehicle Amendment Bill we have given a provision that if there are any innovative solutions and if those innovative solutions need to be promoted, then the existing provisions of the statute may be waived for them. But it is always going to be subject to certain conditions and the topmost is that road safety cannot be affected and the passengers’ security and safety cannot be compromised with. These are certain basic tenets which need to be complied with. Otherwise, these kind of provisions would always be useful in promoting technologies. So the government is always for anything that promotes efficiency if it sees productivity, cost and other economic solutions in that.