Nearly 9% of new taxi drivers in the city have degrees and diplomas under their belt. Experts see this as a positive sign and hope the fresh infusion of well-qualified drivers will translate to better service, apart from improving the overall image of cabbies.
Of the 7,843 winners of the black-and-yellow taxi permit lottery held at Vidhan Bhawan on Saturday, there were 649 graduates and 26 diploma holders.
At present, the city has about 38,000 taxis plying in the city, including cool cabs. Most drivers have not passed Class 10.
According to state rules, applicants for taxi permits must have at least passed Class 10 to be eligible. Applicants who have passed Class 8 may also be considered if the transport department fails to get sufficient number of applications.
Of the 27,064 applications received for taxi permits across the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, the highest number of applicants were Class 8 pass, followed by around 13,000 applications from individuals who have passed Class 10 or 12.
Transport department insiders revealed that the number of lottery winners who passed Class 10 and Class 12 were 4,967 and 2,201 respectively.
While transport experts have welcomed this development, they have also suggested that authorities should provide better training to taxi drivers.
“Education improves overall behaviour,” said AV Shenoy, transport expert. He said the Regional Transport Office (RTO) should teach drivers how to behave with commuters.
According to RTO sources, many people see running a taxi as an additional source of income and this could be one of the reasons why several well-educated individuals applied for a permit. Leasing out a permit enables the holder to earn a monthly income. The holder could also earn a one-time gain by selling the permit.
An expert, requesting anonymity, suggested that transport authorities tweak the existing rules to check this practice. “It should be mandatory for permit holders to drive the taxi for at least one shift in a day,” the expert said.