Radio taxis added another chapter to the city’s transport system. The colourful cabs with neat interiors, which were just a call away, came as a boon for commuters — especially women — as they were considered a safe travel option.
But seven years after they were introduced, Delhiites are yet to get into the habit of using radio taxis for travelling short distances or for daily use.
This, despite the fare being slashed from Rs 20 per km to Rs 10 with the introduction of economy cabs. The first few radio cabs that were introduced charged exorbitantly and were not within the reach of the masses. The introduction of economy taxis that charge as low as Rs 10 per kilometre, filled that gap.
But despite this, most use these taxis for travelling long distances or to go to the airport and railway station. “Our analysis reveals that people in Delhi mostly prefer these cabs for longer distances, mainly airports and railway stations, unlike Mumbai where these cabs are hired for shorter distances as well,” said a senior Delhi government official.
Another drawback is that many operators do not have adequate vehicles to run and hence many bookings are even cancelled at last minute, forcing commuters to make alternative arrangements.
Nevertheless, for most operators, radio taxis are a success story that have forced, or even encouraged, other taxi providers to introduce low-cost taxis.
“They ferry close to 25,000 passengers everyday which is almost five times more than the number that was plying on Delhi roads about a decade back,” said RP Meena, joint commissioner transport department.
And they come with their own set of advantages. Passengers are picked up from their doorsteps. The taxis are equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS), which means their every movement can be tracked. That is why, they are considered one of the safest modes of transport in an otherwise unsafe city.
“Life has become much easier after the introduction of these cabs. Earlier I used depend on others to drop me to the airport for an early morning flight,” said Shipra Jain, a Munirka resident .
Currently, 5,000 radio cabs ply on city roads together with 2,400 economy cabs. The traditional black-yellow taxis are 6,000 in number.