Taxi, auto permits de-freezed: Expect cheaper rides, but more traffic snarls in Mumbai
Mumbai city news: Parking problems are set to worsen in the space-starved citymumbai Updated: Jun 18, 2017 23:51 IST
The Maharashtra government’s decision to de-freeze taxi and auto rickshaw permits in Mumbai and other key cities has brought cheers to not only operators, but even passengers who say this will level the playing field and improve transport services.
Experts, however, are apprehensive about the increasing number of vehicles in the city leading to parking woes.
Following the Union government’s directive, the state had capped the number of taxis and autorickshaw permits alloted to cities with more than 10 lakh residents. Permits in cities such as Mumbai, Pune, Nagpur, Nashik were restricted from November 1997. On Saturday, the state said it would lift the freeze on permits and issue them without any caps. This was done to curb permits being sold on the black market.
Now, drivers can get taxi and autorickshaw permits easily, provided they fulfil certain terms and conditions. Earlier, they had to hire or buy permits, which were expensive.
“We are happy as our four-year-long struggle has paid off,” said Shashank Rao, leader of Mumbai Autorickshaw Men’s Taximen Union. He said the decision will allow several drivers, who were driving their colleagues’ vehicles as they did not have permits, to drive their own vehicles.
Transport experts and regional transport office officials said the government’s decision will help passengers as fares will reduce owing to the increase in the number of vehicles plying in the city. “The government should have taken this decision much earlier,” said AV Shenoy, transport expert.
Citizens, however, were worried the increasing number of vehicles will lead to traffic snarls and congested roads. Parking problems are set to worsen in the space-starved city.
While some transport experts and officials said there was a need for certain restrictions to be put in place, others said traffic would remain unaffected. “Autorickshaw and taxi fares will come down. As the prices of app-based cabs surge, more people will opt for conventional taxis and autorickshaws. This will help keep the number of vehicles in check,” said Shenoy.
Transport expert Ashok Datar said the government should regulate where such vehicles are parked. “Autorickshaw and taxi drivers should not be allowed to park wherever there is space. They should be charged, but given some concessions,” he said. He added that more electric vehicles should be introduced.
Transport experts and RTO officials said taxis and autos should settle on an app-based platform to improve the quality of services. “Local buses should also be given strong financial, managerial and technical support by the government to ensure that public transport improves,” said a senior RTO official.
Currently, Maharashtra has around 1.5 lakh taxis and more than 7.5 lakh autorickshaws. Of theses, about 50 lakh taxis and 1.25 lakh auto rickshaws ply on Mumbai’s roads, alongside 40,000 app-based taxis. The number of vehicles in the city has increased over the past two years.
During this time, the state has re-issued thousands of cancelled taxis and auto rickshaw permits.