If commuters have their way, black and yellow taxis plying on city roads could be mounted with rooftop indicators, declaring if they are available for hire.
Most black and yellow taxis with e-meters don’t have such indicators on rooftops, and commuters argue that this often causes passengers trouble while hiring cabs. While on the one hand dealing with frequent fare refusals, commuters complain that often, particularly at night, it is hard to tell if an approaching taxi is occupied or available.
The transport department has been phasing out taxis that are more than 25 years old, and there are a large number of new taxis on the roads, with electronic meters and indicators. However, the ‘for hire’ indicators in these taxis are placed inside the vehicle, usually on the dashboard of the taxi and is thus not visible to passengers on the road.
The display on these indicators too is dim, so, particularly at night, commuters trying to hail taxis have a hard time distinguishing between those that are available or engaged. In contrast, most fleet cabs and radio cabs in the city have such indicators mounted on their rooftops.
AV Shenoy, an activist from the Mumbai Vikas Samiti has written several letters to the transport department on the issue. He said that in many cases, the indicators in taxis did not work. “In many taxis, indicators are fitted, but they do not work. Hence, even when the taxi is occupied, the indicator shows that it is for hire,” said Shenoy.
Shenoy has also highlighted the need for rooftop indicators to the Hakim committee, appointed by the state to look into auto and taxi fare revisions. “The committee is looking into larger issues and may not address this concern,” said Shenoy.
However, when contacted by the Hindustan Times, the transport department said that if the passengers were genuinely troubled, they would look into the matter. “We will definitely address this issue if it is of concern to passengers and will take appropriate steps,” said VN More, transport commissioner.