Even six months after the last fare hike, the decision on reducing the age limit for old taxis and autorickshaws is pending with the state transport department.
After hiking the fare according to the Hakim panel formula in October 2012, the transport department had said that it would restrict the age of taxis and autos to 20 and 16 years respectively. Even as the taxi and auto unions are demanding that the fare be hiked again from May 1, the department is yet to decide on the age of taxis and autos.
Varsha Raut of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat said that most autos and taxis in the city are old and ill-maintained. “Despite paying such high fare, passengers don’t get quality service,” she said.
Another consumer activist AV Shenoy said, “Old cars such as Fiat and Ambassador were sturdy, while new cars have a life span of 10-12 years. So, it is advisable to restrict their usage to 10 years.”
Taxi and auto unions are not ready to accept the decision. AL Quadros, leader of Mumbai Taximen’s Union, said, “If the government wanted to go ahead with the decision, it should have given us at least two years to replace old vehicles.”
“Most autos ply on clean fuel and undertake annual fitness test. So there is no need to reduce the number of years for which they can be used. The decision will only benefit vehicle manufacturers,” Shashank Rao, leader of Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s union.
Transport secretary SK Sharma said, “We will consider the issue in the next state transport authority meeting.”
According to sources, about 10 per cent of taxis and autos will be off roads, if the authority imposes the restriction.
Currently, there are 41,000 taxis and more than 90,000 autos in the city. While the age limit for taxis was fixed to 25 years in August 2008, there is no age bar for autorickshaws.
Raut said that the taxi trade committee, which submitted its report in 1996, had also suggested that autos and taxis should be plied only for 15 years.