Inability to drive cars on alternate days and lack of ample alternatives has left several commuters across the city to haggle with kaali-peeli taxi drivers to charge regular fares.
With the Delhi government banning surge pricing by app-based cab aggregators such as Uber and Ola, it is the kaali-peeli taxi drivers who are on a free run to overcharge commuters.
To get a ground report on how these services are charging mindlessly customers, these correspondents took rides in the cabs from various parts of the city and ended up paying twice the amount they would pay through the cab aggregators.
One of the drivers demanded Rs 150 for a two-kilometre distance from India Gate to Kasturba Gandhi (KG) Marg. In an auto, the metre would only touch Rs 30 for covering the distance.
“I will have to come back without any passengers,” he justified.
Several such commuters were stranded on the stretch with no bus connectivity and autos zooming past.
In west Delhi’s Patel Nagar, these self proclaimed ‘niche’ services demanded Rs 550 to cover a distance of 7.2 kilometres and Rs 10 extra for a small backpack that carried nothing but a notebook and few pens.
The government started a crackdown on Ola and Uber drivers after they increased prices during peak traffic hours of the odd-even period. Though these services rolled back the surge prices on Monday, there was a shortage of cabs.
The government has fixed a minimum rate of Rs 12.5 per kilometer. After 11pm, however, the minimum charge goes up to Rs 14.
“We have taken the issue of overcharging by cab services and auto-rickshaws seriously. We have been fining drivers based on the complaints we receive. No cab service will be allowed to charge beyond the prescribed rates,” a senior transport official said.
Most drivers gathered at the stand in Saket J-Block said that since the ban on surge pricing, their business has risen by at least 5-10%.
At the New Delhi railway station, commuters complained of blatant overcharging and lack of ample modes of transport.
“We reached Delhi and could not find any auto so we booked the kaali-peeli taxi from the stand. They asked for Rs 1,000 for three people and the two bags to go from the station to Kashmere Gate. We had no other option,” said Sudheer Kumar, a commuter.