In 2 years, Mumbai got 75K permits for rickshaws, 1.6K for taxis
The state has issued 75,434 permits for autos and 1,604 permits for taxis in the city between June 2017 and March 2019, data from the state transport department revealed.
In 1996, the state had stopped issuing new permits for autos and taxis, but decided to restart the process in June 2017. With the state issuing new permits, the total number of autos in Mumbai has gone up to 2.12 lakh, from around 1.4 lakh before June 2017. The number of taxis, however, witnessed a downfall — from 55,000 before June 2017 to 44,566 in March 2019. Across Maharashtra, the state issued more than 2.33 lakh permits for autos and 4,766 permits for taxis since June 2017, taking the total number of the vehicles to 9.76 lakh and 65,836 respectively.
However, despite the rise in the number of permits, auto and taxi drivers continue to refuse passengers, fleece them, and break traffic rules. “On the western side of Kurla station, the auto drivers charge Rs 30 till BKC-1 though the RTO said they must charge only Rs 20. They threaten passengers if they confront them,” said Bala More, a government employee.
The transport department has been conducting regular drives to curb such issues. Between March and July 2019, regional transport office (RTO) squads took action against more than 12,500 autos for refusing fares, overcharging, ferrying extra passengers and plying without documents. “We regularly conduct drives and hold meetings with auto and taxi unions,” said Abhay Deshpande, regional transport officer and spokesperson of Maharashtra Motor Vehicles department.
Experts blamed the state for focusing more on taxis and autos, instead of improving BEST bus services. “With a short-term solution to the city’s transport problem, the state created long-term problems of congestion and pollution,” said transport expert AV Shenoy. “People are ready to pay extra for better service, but taxi and auto drivers will have to change their mindset or else they will perish in the coming years,” said Shirish Deshpande.