Losing out on business with the advent of app-based taxis like Uber and Ola, the black-and-yellow cab unions, popularly known as Kaali-Peelis, have demanded that the cabbies be given permission to operate across the state and not just Mumbai.
Mumbai Taximens Union (MTU), one of the biggest unions of taxi drivers in the city, has demanded permission for operating the iconic black and yellow cabs all over the state. The union made the demand in a five-page letter on suggestions and objections to the new draft rules that the Maharashtra government has proposed for regulating app-based taxis.
Currently, the black and yellow cabs can ferry passengers anywhere within the MMR limits though their business is largely concentrated in Mumbai. Of late, the income of cabbies has fallen sharply as app-based cabs have become popular among commuters.
Justifying the demand, veteran union leader and general secretary of the union AL Quadros said that taxis like those in Mumbai do not exist in any other city of Maharashtra and there is lot of demand for intercity operation on routes like Mumbai-Pune and Mumbai-Nashik, besides for visiting famous tourism destinations like Mahabaleshwar, Ganapatipule and Ajanta-Verul.
“Most industries have gone outside Mumbai with their headquarters in the city. People will require transport to shuttle between them. People will prefer taxis and ditch private cars,” he said, adding that the taxis were the easiest choice for people on short vacations and family functions as they are economical when compared to tourist cars.
Currently, Mumbai has around 38,000 black and yellow taxis, including a few thousand blue-silver air-conditioned Cool Cabs. The city is witnessing a tussle between the app-based taxis and the conventional taxis for the past two years.
Every day, at least 3,000-4,000 taxis go outside the city limit, according to Quadros. If the government permits them to operate across Maharashtra, they were hoping 4,000-5,000 taxis would go outside MMR daily, allowing the cabbies to improve their income. “If cabbies in cities like Kolkata are permitted to ferry passengers across West Bengal, why not in Maharashtra,” he said.
Industry experts feel that it will help cabbies and provide them options for sustaining in the changed situation, besides improving the public transport scenario in the state. “There is scope for operating non-AC taxis across Maharashtra since no other cities have such taxis, except Mumbai,” said an expert, who did not wish to be named.
Sources are also sceptical about the response they will get until the cabbies change themselves.
Opposing the surge pricing, the union has also demanded that app-based taxis should have a minimum of 1400cc engine capacity and those should not use existing taxi stands. The app-based taxis should be fitted with physical panic buttons and digital meters and the aggregators should provide parking facilities for them.
Other demands of the unions
1. Instead of a cap on maximum and minimum fares, there should be single fare for app-based taxis too
2. Surge pricing should not be allowed
3. App-based cabbies should be fitted with a digital meter instead of the app to avoid surge pricing
4. Cabbies with engines below 1400cc engine capacity should not be allowed to ply as app-based taxis.
5. Taxis with tourist tags should not be allowed to operate as app-based taxis.
6. App-based taxis should be restrained from picking up passengers from taxi stands
7. Only green fuel taxis should permitted and unleaded petrol taxis should be banned
8. Separate parking facility should be mandatory for app-based aggregators
9. Physical panic button should be made mandatory