While cabbies in the city have grudgingly accepted the new fare hike, their real problem is the calibration of their electronic meters. Taxi unions are demanding that e-meter calibration rates be conducted at a fixed price.
From Monday, taxi fares in the city have risen from Rs 16 to 17 for the first stage of 1.6 km and 50 paise for every subsequent stage. At present there are around 20,000 taxis with e-meters in the city. Because of the fare hike, cabbies have to calibrate the e-meters to the new fare value. It will cost cabbies at least Rs 500-Rs1,000 taxi unions said.
E-meters are calibrated by changing a chipset inside it. “Meter repairers charge around Rs 500- Rs 600 for it,” said AL Quadros, president, Mumbai Taximen’s Union. Apart from chipset replacement, cabbies have to pay for the meter to be checked by technical institutes. “We have to pay Rs 50 to get the e-meter checked by a technical institute,” said, Sunil Sathe, vice-president of Mumbai Taxi Chalak Malak Sena.
Regional transport offices seal calibrated e-meters only after an OK by a technical institute. Also, the e-meter calibration takes at least a couple of days leading to loss in earnings.
“To expedite this procedure, taxi driver pay Rs 100-200 to agents at RTO offices. So, taxi drivers lose around Rs 2,000 on the entire process,” Sathe said.
RTO officials said they could not fix a maximum limit for chipsets. “As we don’t have any control over e-meter manufacturer’s products, we can only request them not to charge heavily,” said a senior RTO official.