The city’s cramped five-seater black-and-yellow taxis have come a long way since their introduction before our Independence, to complement horse-wagons.
Starting next Monday, black-and-yellows will grow in size, making for seven occupants (including the driver).
The State Transport Authority has cleared seven-seater taxis to ply in Mumbai and its metropolitan region.
“In the next two days, Regional Transport Offices will approve Maruti’s Eeco taxis, and we’re sure of getting them on the roads from March 22,” said A L Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taxi Union.
Hindustan Times was the first to report on December 26, that Mumbai is considering newer, larger black-and-yellows.
The union will initially run 100 such taxis, replacing those that are 15 years and older.
They will initially ply on the Western and Eastern Express Highways and are meant to encourage car-pooling by those travelling to south Mumbai during office hours. This 7-seater taxi will be priced at around Rs 3.25 lakh.
To complement the traditional black-and-yellow, the state transport department, in 2006, launched private fleet taxis accessible by call centres, allowed advertisements on the sides of these taxis, made it mandatory for fleet drivers to have an ID card and a uniform, and is phasing out taxis that are more than 15 years old.
The department is also encouraging competition.
On Wednesday, state transport minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil will launch Carzonrent, a new fleet taxi company that will start with a first lot of 100 Hyundai Accent call taxis.
Three more companies, including Tata Infrastructure, are reportedly eying the Mumbai market.
The existing major players in the city are Meru Cabs and Mega Cabs. While Meru runs nearly 1,700 taxis and recently allowed commuters to pay by credit card, Mega Cabs recently inducted 100 new Tata Indigo cars into its fleet of around 700 cars.