Vacancy indicators atop all autorickshaws and taxis, which show whether the vehicle is available for hire or not, may soon become a reality. After expressing opposition to the transport department’s move to make these indicators mandatory, auto and taxi unions have now agreed to install the improved indicators.
The unions had been expressing their reservations against these indicators, fearing they would be expensive to maintain.
The unions’ agreement has cleared a major roadblock in the way of installing these indicators and the transport department will now decide on technical specifications and other legalities. The department will have to notify the specifications and also amend the Motor Vehicle Rules before it can fit the indicators.
It will take at least a few months for the actual installation of indicators to begin, said transport officials. “We have not decided a cut-off date yet,” said transport commissioner VN More.
At the start of the year, the transport department had floated the plan of making these indicators compulsory for all vehicles plying on city roads and called for suggestions from unions, commuters, activists and manufactures. Auto and taxi unions, however, were opposed to it, citing the high price and maintenance cost of the indicators. Auto unions had also been concerned the indicators would be damaged on their soft roofs.
During a meeting with the transport chief on Thursday, taxi unions gave their consent to installing the indicators. “We were opposed to the idea because we had heard the indicators would cost more than Rs. 3,500, but because the price is now around Rs. 850, we have agreed” said AL Quadros, general secretary of Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
Taxi unions said the advanced indicators would prove useful to drivers too. “Since the indicators also have an ‘off-duty’ option, drivers will not get into trouble for turning down fares,” said DA Salian, Mumbai Taxi association.
RTO officials are positive about the indicators. “Quarrels between passengers and drivers will reduce, as indicators will clearly display whether the vehicles are on or off duty,” said an official.