People arriving in the city from other towns will continue to get fleeced by taxi drivers at railway stations because a disagreement between the Central Railway (CR) and the Regional Transport Office (RTO) has delayed the prepaid taxi scheme.
The Central Railway had proposed a prepaid taxi stand Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, Dadar Terminus and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus at Kurla for commuters arriving by long-distance trains.
The prepaid taxi service, similar to the one at the city airport, will enable passengers to make a fixed payment for the ride at the station depending on the distance.
The idea was to save the commuters from being cheated because many taxi meters are tampered with and drivers often trouble passengers for extra fare after reaching the destination.
However, initial talks between the railways and the RTO have failed because neither party wants to manage the taxi stand.
“We are ready to give them land and basic infrastructure to run the services but the RTO is asking us to create and operate an establishment for running these services too, which is not our prerogative,” a senior Central Railway official said, requesting anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
Railway authorities say it is the RTO and transport department’s job to coordinate day-to-day operations of taxis. The RTO would fix the fare for these prepaid services, along the lines of the system at the airport taxi stands.
The RTO says it does not have enough staff to manage these stands.
“We are ready to survey the routes and convince taxi drivers and their unions. We, however, cannot manage the daily working of these stands because we have a manpower shortage,” said an RTO officer on condition of anonymity because he is not authorised to speak to the media.
V Pandkar, regional transport officer (Wadala), said: “We will look into the issue soon.” The chief public relations officer of the Central Railway, V Malegaonkar, said he will have to check the status of the project before commenting.
Sources in the taxi union feel that the transport department and RTO should ensure that illegal taxis plying at these stations should not obstruct their services.
“We don’t have a problem with this prepaid taxi scheme,” Prem Singh, president, Mumbai Taxi Association, said.