It was in March that CM Sheila Dikshit announced in the Delhi assembly that her government would consider phasing out autos if they find a good alternative to them. Three months later, it looks like the Delhi government has finally zeroed in on an alternative: low fare non-air-conditioned radio taxis.
Delhi transport minister Arvinder Singh Lovely announced the introduction of non AC radio taxi service for Delhi. This service will be available for a flat fare of Rs. 10 per kilometre.
Lovely said his department is in touch with several private operators and the first fleet of about 1000 taxis will be rolled out in next 3-4 months.
The new radio taxi will not only pave way for phasing out yellow and black radio taxi service, but will also limit the utility of auto-rickshaws to an option for shorter distances.
Cheaper than your black-and-yellow taxis and a little costlier than auto-rickshaws — which from Wednesday will charge Rs 6.50 per km — the new taxi is expected to provide the ambience of a cab in the fare of auto-rickshaws.
“These taxis will be a perfect para-transit system to suit longer journeys,” a senior transport official said.
The government has decided to give permits to private operators to run lighter vehicles (700-999 cc engines) such as Maruti van, Maruti Alto and Chevrolet Spark to ply radio taxi in this category.
Hindustan Times was the first newspaper to report that the transport department wanted to bring in small cars to replace auto rickshaws.
Senior transport department officials said small cars or taxis would mainly run on arterial roads and longer routes while three-wheelers would be restricted to smaller routes.
“We will offer low-fare cab permits to auto owners and will even offer them incentive in case they decide to replace their autos with cabs,” Lovely said.
Officials said more than 30,000 applications for autos are pending with the transport department.
“If the scheme works out, we can approach the Supreme Court and these permits can be given for small cars instead.”