A WagonR — that’s what Mumbaikars could soon be hailing instead of the age-old black-and-yellow taxis.
Mumbai’s cabbies are in talks with Maruti Udyog Limited to replace the existing rickety taxis with a new fleet of WagonRs.
Three major taxi unions on Thursday launched their own swank versions of a cab at a function organised as part of the bid to modernise the city’s taxis.
The Cool Cabs will be the first to go, but there are also plans to replace the black-and-yellow taxis.
“Mumbai is a world-class city and taxis are the city’s first impression for any newcomer. Hence they cannot afford to lag. Upgrade them and the government will offer all the help it can,” said State Finance Minister Jayant Patil, speaking at a function to induct 11 new Maruti Esteems in the Cool Cab fleet.
The new Esteems will run on CNG and will have electronic meters.
There are also plans for the taxis to go high-tech, if Patil’s pledge to support taxi unions to upgrade taxis with radio connectivity and satellite navigators is anything to go by.
“We are in talks with Maruti to replace the existing black-and-yellow cabs with the WagonR. We are working out an affordable deal,” said Anthony L Quadros, head of the Mumbai Taximen’s Union. The aim is to make the new WagonR taxis financially viable not only to the taximen and to Maruti, but also to the average Mumbaiite.
“It will be quite possible to run an air-conditioned cab at the existing fare of Rs 13 and WagonR is the selected model. We are trying to work out a deal, though it would be premature to comment on it,” said Maruti dealer Sandeep Bafna.
Mumbai has a fleet of over 55,000 taxis — the black-and-yellow ones with a minimum fare of Rs 13 and Rs 1.50 for every 1.6 subsequent km, and Cool Cabs, the air-conditioned version, with a minimum fare of Rs 16.50.