Commuters may have a tough time next week, as the city’s biggest taxi union has threatened an indefinite strike starting from 12:00 am on Monday, to demand a larger fare hike.
The Mumbai Taximens Union took the decision on Tuesday and will formally declare it at the all-union meeting at Opera House on Wednesday, said union leader Al Quadros.
Around 45,000 taxis will go off roads. The strike will most affect areas such as south Mumbai, the airport and the Railway Terminus.
The union is unhappy with the September 28 state notification on the Hakim panel’s recommendations . While the panel had suggested a Rs3 hike in base fares for autos and taxis, among other changes, the state has approved a Re1 and Rs2 hike for taxis and autos respectively.
“We are demanding the implementation of the Hakim committee’s report, without any changes. The state has reduced cost of maintenance from Rs92000 [suggested by the panel] to 70,000 a year; and cost of living by Rs1000 monthly. We are opposing this,” said Quadros.
Other unions have backed the strike call. “If all unions support the strike, we will support it to, for the benefit of taxi drivers,” said Prem Singh, president, Bombay Taxi Association .
KK Tiwari, president, Swabhiman taxi-rickshaw said his union would join the strike if the Hakim panel’s report is not implemented in its entirety. “We are not supporting the strike as of now, as our meeting with transport commissioner is pending,” said Tiwari.
Tough times for commuters
If the state government bows down to pressure from autorickshaw and taxi unions and implements the fare structure recommended by the Hakim committee, it could burn a big hole in your pocket (see box)
Apart from the Rs. 3 hike, The Hakim committee had sugegsted reducing the minimum distance to 1.5km, which, at present, is 1.6 km.
For each subsequent km, the panel had suggested a hike of Rs. 2.5 and Rs. 3 for taxis and autos respectively, while the state has notifieda hike of Rs. 1.5 and Rs. 2 per subsequent km for taxis and autos respectively.
The new fare is yet to be ratified by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA), after which it will be enforced.
According to sources in the Regional Transport Office (RTO), for a 2.5km journey, commuters will end up paying Rs5.5 and Rs6 more than they currently pay for taxis and autos respectively. Across longer distances, the fare would rise exponentially.
For example, at present, commuters pay Rs. 28 in a cab to go from CST to Nariman Point (NCPA). According to the Hakim panel’s recommended fare, the cost will go up to Rs. 33 – Rs. 35.
However, consumer activists say a further downward revision is needed. “The fare hike l has an adverse impact on consumers,” said consumer activist Shirish Deshpande. He said even with changes made by the state, the burden on commuters has increased.
Mumbai Vikas Samiti activist AV Shenoy suggested the government should bring down minimum distance to 1 km instead of proposed 1.5 km.