The prepaid taxi service from the Bandra terminus is more expensive, compared to other railway stations, as the newly appointed contractor is charging passengers – instead of the drivers – Rs 30 for parking.
This, along with the Rs 15 passengers pay as service charge, is double the minimum fare of a black-and-yellow cab.
Officials at the regional transport office (RTO) said this extra charge is against the rules, but the contractor said it is unfair to ask taxi drivers to pay for parking.
"Ideally, the parking charge must be paid by the taxi drivers. Instead, the contractor is passing it on to the passengers, which is wrong," said a taxi union leader.
The contractor, however, justified the move. “We can’t pass on the burden to taxi drivers, who wait the entire day for two or three customers,” said Sameer Mishal, the proprietor of Mishal enterprises.
While a senior RTO official said the contractor requires approval for charging any extra amount from passengers, officials at the Andheri RTO – in whose jurisdiction the Bandra terminus falls – said they were not aware of the move.
“I am not aware of it. But now that you have told me, I will send my team there and check,” said Prabhakar Bhalerao, the regional transport officer of Andheri.
Western Railways (WR) said they allowed the contractors to charge the taxi drivers for parking. “If people have complaints, they can approach us or the RTO. If the contractor is violating any rules, we will take the necessary action,” said Sharat Chandrayan, WR’s chief public relations officer.
The prepaid taxis were set up in 2011 to provide passengers, especially those who have come to the city for the first time, a safe and reliable taxi service.
The service received good response, and now the transport department has introduced a similar scheme for autorickshaws at Kalyan.