New taxis in Kathmandu likely by mid-October

New taxis in Kathmandu likely by mid-October

The new taxi cabs planned to be operated in the Kathmandu Valley may hit the streets by mid-October in time for the country’s greatest festival Dashain, the Transport Management Office, Bagmati said. The Small and Big Vehicles Division here is presently busy processing the piles of applications for taxi permits and creating a database of the applicants.

The government’s initiative to introduce new taxis in Kathmandu has witnessed a phenomenal response with the call for applications for 1,850 new taxis attracting as many as 14,893 hopefuls within 15 days. The demand for licences to operate taxis in the valley has surpassed the number of permits available more than seven-fold. The transport office had witnessed excess applications for new taxis within just five days from the date of opening.

According to Yagya Oli, an official at the Small and Big Vehicles Division, the government received 8,013 applications from the general public willing to become entrepreneurs against the quota of 700 taxis. Likewise, 6,246 applications have been received from individuals having a driving licence to operate four-wheelers and willing to drive them to generate income. The quota for them was fixed at 500. The quota for the existing taxi owners or drivers, however, has attracted few takers. Only 634 applications have been filed against the quota of 650 taxis.

“We are working rigorously to hand over licences to operate new taxis in Kathmandu,” said Rajan Poudel, head of the Small and Big Vehicles. “If everything goes as per plan, we will be seeing new taxis plying Kathmandu’s streets by the Dashain festival.”

Since the quota for the existing taxi owners or drivers has attracted fewer applicants than the number of permits available, the office plans to hand over licences in this category first. For the other two categories, the department will be holding a lucky draw.

According to Poudel, the office is making preparations to develop software to conduct the lucky draw. “Since the number of applicants is high, we cannot pick the lucky ones manually. Also, the software will ensure greater transparency,” Poudel said.

Applications for 1,850 new taxi permits were opened in line with the government’s decision to add 2,850 new taxis in the valley.

Out of the second batch of 1,000 taxi permits up for grabs, the government plans to issue 500 permits to earthquake survivors and affected families. The remaining 500 permits will be issued to companies to operate deluxe and super deluxe taxis.

Applications for deluxe and super deluxe taxi are likely to open within a month. Applications for earthquake survivors will likely take some time as the government is still identifying earthquake affected people and families.

According to the Department of Transport Management, there are 5,650 taxis presently operating in the valley. In 2000, when the population of Kathmandu was estimated to be around 1.3 million, there were 7,500 taxis. Today, the population is believed to have exploded to more than 4 million. No new taxi permits have been issued for the past 15 years.

The introduction of new taxis in Kathmandu is expected to address the problems of travellers who are compelled to ride in uncomfortable and old cars by paying much more than for other means of public transportation.

While the Maruti 800 is the only vehicle being operated as taxis on Kathmandu’s streets, auto dealers like Maruti, Hyundai and Toyota have announced plans to roll out cars for taxis in different segments.

Hyundai with the Eon Dlite+ and Maruti with the Alto 800 are ready to compete in the regular taxi segment. As for Toyota, it is aiming to tap the premium market with the Toyota Etios and the Etios Liva for the deluxe and super deluxe segment. Well informed automobile dealers said that other brands too were making plans to position their vehicles in the cab market.

Source: The Kathmandu Post