They do it every year, and there’s no change this year either. Cabbies and auto drivers have started making commute tough for Mumbaiites by refusing fares when it’s raining.
“The drivers know that people don’t have the time to go to the RTO after complaining on the helpline, so they continue to refuse fares,” said Kisan Mehta, member, Save Bombay Committee.
Often, the drivers zip past, refusing to acknowledge that you are frantically waving to them. Others have ready excuses, such as insufficient gas or waterlogged road.
Commuters also complain that many drivers overcharge them or demand a return fare if it’s long distance. “A taxi driver demanded a return fare as it was raining heavily and he could see there was no other vehicle available closeby,” said Abhijit Sabaji, who had to go from Andheri to Dadar on Friday.
Auto and taxi unions refuse to acknowledge there’s a problem. “All those refusing fares drive illegal autos. The government should ensure that these rickshaws go off the roads,” said Sharad Rao, president, Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Union, refusing to accept that the legitimate drivers are just as bad. Rao claims there are 25,000 illegal autos on the road.
AL Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen’s Union, said: “We will soon have a meeting with the drivers and ask them to accept all fares.”
The RTO has not seen many complaints yet; since the past four days, there have been only 25-odd complaints. “Currently, there are not many cases registered, but if complaints of refusal increase, we will begin a crackdown,” said M Jadhav, RTO, Tardeo.
Last June, the RTO had initiated a crackdown following a large number of complaints.