Why can’t we flag down a cab in Delhi? | delhi | Hindustan Times
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Why can’t we flag down a cab in Delhi?

For a 10-minute-drive journey, you cannot call a cab from the nearest stand and wait longer for it to arrive, reports Shivani Singh.

delhi Updated: Dec 28, 2007 03:52 IST
Shivani Singh

Late last month, four bank executives held a Sunday meeting at their Noida home. All of them worked in and around the Connaught Place area and each took his car to work.

After doing the routine for more than a year since the last one of them had moved in to their housing society, they finally decided to save money, stamina and, given the ominous smog hanging overhead, do their bit for the green cause by taking weekly turns for a car pool.

When Debashish, the youngest of the four, told me about this “car club”, I wished I also had regular hours at work. But last week I was told that the club was disbanded.

No, there was no fight. They are still quite a gang on Sundays.

They had to return to their old ways of keeping their own cars handy at their respective office parkings simply because one cannot flag down a cab on Delhi roads.

“See, it was fine to take the pool car to office and then back home. But then you often need to go out of the office during the day. After travelling so many years in cars, we are just not comfortable taking a bus or a three-wheeler any more. A taxi would do fine but you simply cannot get one on the road,” explained Debashish.

I knew the problem. For a 10-minute-drive journey from your office, you cannot call a cab from the nearest stand and wait longer for it to arrive.

Yes, Delhi now boasts of 900 odd no-nonsense radio taxis but their average response time is half an hour.

Moreover, what do you do when you need a cab on the road? Say, coming out of an appointment? Even if you somehow know a local taxi stand’s number, would you call up and request to be identified on the pavement by the stripes of your shirt?

Our cabs run on CNG and can reduce the load on environment — and the city’s crammed parking lots — by dissuading a good number of car-owners like Debashish and his friends.

And what is at stake here? In 10 years, Delhi has seen a 140 per cent increase in private car population. No wonder the overhead smog just refuses to budge.

Environment apart, pray why can’t Delhiites have the privilege of just flagging down a cab, rather than negotiating our cars out of chaotic parking lots, when we are getting desperately late for something important?

You can flag down a cab in Mumbai, in Calcutta, in fact, in most parts of the rational world. But not in Delhi.

I tried probing with senior officials but nobody could tell why no thought was given to introducing such a system.

The only excuse of a logic that seems to be there is that three-wheelers are allowed everywhere in Delhi — unlike Mumbai — and so Delhiites can do without cabs.

High on Metro and HCBS, our officials have no time to spare for intermediary public transport.

We must accept that many car owners simply won’t take three-wheelers to reach a Metro or HCBS stop, or for that matter, anywhere. Only an extensive, convenient taxi network can absorb such people.

But do we really need to justify why we should be allowed to flag down cabs on Delhi roads? It's just so absurd.