Taxi and autorickshaw unions have demanded fare hikes again, even as they have rapidly lost business to app-based taxis in the past year.
The demand was raised when the four-member panel led by former IAS officer BC Khatua, tasked with reviewing the fare revision formula put in place by the Hakim panel, called the unions on Friday to discuss fares. It was the third meeting of the panel that also has senior advocate Girish Godbole, former transport commissioner DG Jadhav and chartered accountant Nitin Doshi as members. The Mumbai Taximens Union, one of the city’s biggest, asked that the minimum fare be made Rs20, against the existing Rs18.
The union demanded the hike citing reasons such as increased cost of living and a rise in insurance premium. AL Quadros, the leader of Mumbai Taximens Union confirmed their demand.
The unions’ demand has surprised many, as taxis and autorickshaws, continue to lose out to app-based cabs that provide comfortable AC services at better rates. “Already, earnings of taxis and autos have fallen. Any fare hike will only affect the poor drivers,” said KK Tiwari, the leader of the Swabhiman Taxi Rickshaw Union. After facing commuters’ anger for the sharp rise in fares after 2012, the state was forced to appoint the four-member panel, which came into force in October and was to submit its report in three months. This deadline is not likely to be met. “As the meeting was called at very short notice, we have asked for more time for submitting our demands,” said Shashank Rao, leader of the Mumbai Taximens Autorickshawmens Union.