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Introduce smaller cabs in all Maharashtra cities except Mumbai, says panel

Taxis slightly bigger than autos may offer more affordable travel in cities such as Pune, Nashik, Nagpur, Aurangabad, Solapur, it said.

mumbai Updated: Oct 30, 2017 11:15 IST
Kailash Korde
Kailash Korde
Hindustan Times
Maharashtra,Mumbai Metropolitan Region,Mumbai taxis
Panel recommends a new class of small taxis for cities with million-plus population, excluding the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).(HT File)

A four-member panel appointed by the state government to fix fares for autorickshaws and taxis in Maharashtra recommended introducing a new class of small taxis — bigger than auto-rickshaws, but smaller than existing taxis — for cities with million-plus population, excluding the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).

Taxis with an engine capacity between 600 cc to 980 cc could provide safer, comfortable and more affordable rides to commuters compared to existing autos and taxis, the panel stated. Dustron Redigo, Hyundrai-Eon, Tata Nano, Kwid, Magic Iris are some of the vehicle models with an engine capacity less than 980cc.

Pune, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Nashik, Nagpur, Aurangabad and Solapur are some of the cities outside MMR mentioned in the report.

For the MMR, including Mumbai, the panel recommended introducing the smaller taxis only after studying their impact on the demand and supply of existing cabs as well as the traffic scenario. “The panel did not recommend introducing smaller taxis in Mumbai for the time being because presently their impact on black-and-yellow taxis cannot be correctly gauged,” said an official.

Presently, none of the million-plus population cities in Maharashtra have an intra-city taxi service. As a result, commuters are forced to travel either by buses or autos.

Appointed in October 2016, the four-member panel, chaired by retired IAS officer BC Khatua, had submitted its report almost after a year, earlier this month. Last week, the government made the report public by making it available on the transport department’s website.

Currently, black-and-yellow taxis are restricted to an engine capacity of at least 980cc, while the capacity for air-conditioned cool cabs and fleet cabs is 1400cc. The state brought in this restriction in September 2010. Before this, taxis 800cc engine capacity were also being registered.

In January 2017, however, the state allowed four-wheelers with an engine capacity of not less than 700cc. The Khatua panel suggested the government should leave these restrictions untouched.

Karnataka, Assam, Rajasthan, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chandigadh, Jammu and Kashmir, Madhya Pradesh have already allowed smaller cars as taxis, according to the report.

“These vehicles are more stable, robust and have more engine power than three-wheelers with an inbuilt AC facility, and can protect the customer from any adverse weather condition and air pollution,” states panel report.

Ashutosh Atre, an expert said the move was welcome, but raised doubts about the acceptability of such cabs by passengers. “The travelling distance is very short in other million plus population cities barring Pune. Auto or taxi does not make much difference for people as their journey is hardly 4-5 kilometers, as compared to 15-30 kilometers in Mumbai,” he said.

First Published: Oct 30, 2017 11:15 IST