In the wake of the controversy over recalibration of electronic meters (e-meters) in accordance with the revised tariff, the transport officials are considering the consumer activists’ demand of using the kilometre system to determine autorickshaw and taxi tariff.
Around 50,000 taxis including fleet cabs and more than 2.5 lakh autorickshaws ply in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region. The vehicles charge passengers according to the mile system. Under the system, the minimum fare for taxis and autorickshaws in Mumbai is set for a mile, which is equivalent to 1.6 kilometre (km). In cities such as Pune, Nagpur and Aurangabad, the fare is decided on km-basis. This is beneficial for commuters as the distance is relatively less and so is the fare.
Consumer activists have been demanding since long that the impractical mile system, which is in place since the British rule, must be replaced with the km-system.
The mile system benefits auto and taxi drivers while with the matrix system — km system — passengers will benefit. But, with strong opposition from taxi and auto unions, the transport authorities were not willing to adopt it earlier.
Shirish Deshpande, consumer activist, said: “The km-system is in practice in more than 20 cities in the state while Mumbai continues to grapple with the old mile system.”
“There should be uniform policy in the state. Why are the passengers being forced to pay for the distance they haven’t travelled? This is unfair. The topography of Mumbai is such that in most cases, passengers hardly travel a mile,” he said.
Convinced with the argument, a new committee is likely to be set up to revise the fare-determining formula on the basis of km. “Before adopting the matrix system of km, we need to study its advantages and disadvantages. If the state government appoints a new taxi trade committee to decide the fare revision formula, we can ask them to study the issue,” said a senior transport official.
At present, a taxi meter flags down 6 times in a km at a distance of around 165 meter (m) each. In autos, it flags down 5 times at 200 m each. “There is a need to study issues such as how many times and after how much distance should the flag fall,” the official said.
The change could be possible as since the last few months both auto and taxi unions have been pressurising the transport authorities to rework the fare revision formula.
Claiming the validity of the earlier taxi trade committee, Hakim committee, over Mumbai Taximens’ Union, demand for the appointment of a new committee is being made.