The Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has clarified to the States that motor cycles fall within the ambit of contract carriages and can be used as taxis for ferrying passengers.

In an advisory to States last month, the Ministry pointed out that certain States while processing applications for grant of permits, are taking a view that ‘motorcycle’ is not eligible to ply under contract carriage or operate as a transport vehicle.

Motor Vehicles Act

MoRTH emphasised that Section 2(7) of the Motor Vehicles Act (MV Act), 1988, States that contract carriage means a motor vehicle which carries a passenger or passengers for hire or reward and is engaged under a contract, whether expressed or implied, for the use of such vehicle as a whole for the carriage of passengers mentioned therein and entered into by a person with a holder of a permit in relation to such vehicle or any person authorised by him in this behalf on a fixed or an agreed rate or sum.

“It is clarified that as per Section 2(28) of the MV Act, vehicles having less than four wheels fitted with engine capacity exceeding twenty-five cubic centimetres are also included within the definition of motor vehicles. Hence, ‘motorcycles’ shall fall within the ambit of Section 2(7) of the MV Act,” the advisory added.

It may be noted that the position is also evident from sub-section 3 of section 178 of the MV act which imposes are fine of up to ₹50 on the holder of a contract carriage permit for a two-wheeled contract carriage, or the driver there off, for refusal to apply the same or to carry the passengers, it said.

“Accordingly all the States are advised to accept and process applications for contract carriage permits for motor vehicles in accordance with the provisions of the MV act and the rules thereunder,” the Ministry said.

Bike taxis are widely prevalent in various Asian, Latin American and African countries such as Indonesia, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, Brazil, Colombia, Nigeria, Cameroon, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania as a first and last mile connectivity option.

In India, Goa was the first State, way back in 1981, to permit bikes to operate as commercial vehicles. The tourism-focused State was followed by Mizoram, which became the second State in India to allow bike-taxis to operate in 2016.

Notable features

Last year, the Delhi government notified the Motor Vehicle Aggregator and Delivery Service Provider Scheme mandating clear guidelines for transition of commercial vehicles to electric (EVs) along with standards for service quality and public safety.

A notable feature of the scheme is allowing aggregators to operate electric vehicle-only bike taxi services. The operational guidelines for the same have been outlined in the scheme.

The rationale is that by transitioning to EVs and promoting electric bike taxis, the government will be able to reduce pollution levels in Delhi and create new opportunities for employment and economic growth.