The city will see an addition of 4,000 plusher and faster fleet taxis and fewer black-and-yellow cabs soon.
The state transport department is auctioning 4,000 permits that used to belong to black-and-yellow taxis and had not been renewed for 10 years to fleet cab owners at Rs 1 lakh a permit on August 26.
At the same time, it has sent 200 black-and-yellow cabs to the junkyard; another 750 have been seized and are expected to follow.
The state transport department, which wants the fleet cabs to be high-end models such as Honda City and Toyota Camry, has already received applications from 20 companies.
"We will auction these permits on August 26. Whether or not they introduce high-end vehicles will depend on the fleet cab company," said Dilip Jadhav, transport commissioner.
The fare structures for these radio cabs differ depending on the model of the vehicle used.
Currently, the city has around 2,500 fleet cabs, which are operated by four companies. With the auction attracting 20 firms, more companies are likely to enter the market. Sources in the transport department expect companies from Singapore, the United States and European nations to participate.
"There are at least 11,000 permits that have not been renewed because of several reasons, mostly due to financial constraints," admitted A. Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taxi Union.
The Union has now requested transport minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil to go slow on the drive. "We have already paid for the renewal of some permits. We want the transport department to hand over those permits back to us. Otherwise, we will be forced to go to court," said Quadros.
"The Union should have communicated to us earlier when the permits were lying unused. We want better services," said Jadhav.
The department’s drive against cabs with invalid permits has reduced the number of black-and-yellow taxis on city roads.
As per state records, there are 55,000 taxis, of which permits of 11,000 taxis have expired and 7,000 taxis are either illegal or parked in garages or RTOs.
That leaves 37,000 taxis on the streets, 30 per cent of which are either stationed at the airport or near the railway stations. This leaves only 26,000 taxis officially plying on city roads.
The transport department is planning to auction the remaining 7,000 permits once it gets permission from the state government.