The transport department’s ambitious Call Taxi Scheme has hit a roadblock and may be operational only by May.
The scheme, which was cleared in January this year, was proposed to considerably ease travel woes of Mumbaiites, who could book black-and-yellow taxis to travel to any part of Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane region, and for short distances too by just calling a call centre.
The plan, however, has failed to enthuse cab drivers with only 1,200 of the 37,000-odd taxis plying on city’s roads having signed up for this scheme.
According to the proposed plan, a private operator would set up a call centre that would allow people to dial for black-and-yellow taxis, cool cabs and a new fleet of high-end taxi calling on 42919191, a 24x7-call centre. Under the scheme, new taxi models such as Maruti Omni, Maruti 800, Wagon R and Hyundai Santro, would be fitted with electronic meters, GPS systems to connect with the call centre. These taxis would also have an additional feature: a panic button which when pressed would alert the call centre immediately.
The private operator, Tristar Multi-Trade Pvt Ltd, which was entrusted with this job has started pooling in drivers for this call taxi scheme. A company source said that it has already spent `3.5 crore for installing GPS inside its 1,200 taxis, setting up a call centre and completing other formalities to expedite this scheme in the city.
“We are conducting a trial run now to check feasibility of this scheme. We expect it to be fully operational by May this year. Once implemented, people would be able to book a cab by just dialing a number,” said an official from Tristar Multi-Trade Pvt. Ltd. The company plans to induct 5,000 taxis and cool cabs by December.
The Mumbai Taximen’s Union claims that the whole proposal of having a call centre for black-and-yellow taxis is fraught with problems as cabbies can still refuse to travel for a short-distance. “Taxi drivers are not my employees and they are free not to be part of this scheme. But what is the guarantee that the drivers wouldn’t refuse short distance fares?” asked AL Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
While officers from the Regional Transport Offices claim that this system would end the role of scrupulous taxi drivers who blatantly refuse to travel short distances.
“Unless more private companies join this cab system, this scheme will not succeed,” said Dilip Jadhav, transport commissioner.
The black-and-yellow taxis that have been plying on road for less than two years will be a part of this scheme.