The unions of black-and-yellow taxis have not raised demands to hike fares this year. The reason could be the fear of losing more business to app-based cabs such as Uber and Ola.
Unlike the past three years, none of the taxi unions demanded a hike in fares with the transport authorities though May, when the decision on fare hikes is usually made, is just five days away. This wasn’t the case earlier. Since the government accepted the Hakim Committee recommendations and implemented it in 2012, taxi unions used to start demanding fare revision from April itself.
KK Tiwari, leader of Swabhiman Taxi Rickshaw Union, said there are chances that some commuters could stop using black-and-yellow taxis even if there is just Re1 hike in fare. “There is less chance of fare revision this year. Even if the fare goes up by a rupee, commuters’ mindset is such they may just stop using the conventional taxis,”he said.
Taxi union sources said the changes are owing to the growing popularity of app-based taxis. They added that the daily earning of drivers of conventional taxis has gone down as several commuters prefer the comfort of the air-conditioned vehicles that app-based services offer at equal rates or even cheaper. For a black-and-yellow cab, commuters have to shell out Rs22 as base fare for distance of first 1.5 kms and Rs14.75 per km beyond it. For the app taxis, fares as low as Rs 6-7 a km.
Commuters have, time and again, expressed their displeasure over blac-and-yellow taxis and the high-handedness of the drivers. They have complained about rickety vehicles, shabby interiors, arrogant drivers, rampant fare refusals and overcharging.
Tiwari said he had written letter to transport commissioner last year, demanding that the fares be kept constant. “Hike in per kilometer fare is beneficial for the drivers, but hike in basic fare does not make a difference. On the contrary, they had to bear cost of metre calibration,” he said.
“If fares of black-and-yellow taxis increase at this juncture, it will directly benefit the app-based taxis,”said a taxi union source.
AL Quadros, who heads the Mumbai Taximen’s Union, said they haven’t yet demanded a fare hike but will write for it soon. “Even though there is a less chance of fare hike this year as CNG (compressed natural gas) prices dropped by Rs1.65, insurance premium has increased,” he said.
Prem Singh, leader of Mumbai Taximen’s Association, said they have not yet made a decision.
Even the taxi drivers are not keen on fare revision. “Who does not like a raise?”, said Suresh Yadav, who has been driving a taxi for past 15 years, “But in the time of tough competition, we will have to compromise to some extent,” he said.