The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA) will decide on hike in tariff for autorickshaws and taxis on October 5. The Hakim panel appointed to compute fare revision has proposed that the minimum fare for rickshaws be increased to Rs14, while that for taxis be increased to Rs 18. When it comes into effect, the revision will be the second hike in six months and the steepest in decades. "In over 30 years of my career, we never received a hike of more than Rs 1," said a rickshaw union leader from Kalyan.
Not just that. The hike comes barely six months after taxi and auto tariffs were revised in March and April respectively. "As the state has accepted the Hakim panel's recommendations for fare revision in May every year, the fare will again go up after eight months," said a Regional Transport Official.
To comply with the new fare structure, all meters — mechanical and electronic — will have to be re-calibrated. The re-calibration poses a major challenge to transport authorities, as the government has accepted the Hakim panel's recommendations to reduce the minimum distance to 1.5km, with the fare changing every 100meters, as opposed to 200meters, as is the case currently. As per the panel's recommendations, the government has agreed to a 45-day window for meter re-calibration after a fare hike. But authorities are unsure about how long the process will take. This is likely to lead to disputes between commuters and rickshaw, taxi drivers who haven't got their meters re-calibrated, but want the revised fare.
To resolve this, the transport commissioner's office had called a meeting of meter manufactures and taxi, autorickshaw union leaders before deciding on the fare hike. "Even we fear this scenario and are trying to find a solution such as a tariff card," said a senior official.
Meanwhile, in a meeting on Wednesday, major taxi unions have supported the Mumbai Taximen's Union’s call to suspend operations from October 7 for an indefinite period. The MTU is unhappy with the government's decision to reduce the amount towards cost of living and maintenance.