The automated system installed at the prepaid taxi counter of the domestic airport will soon be installed at the international airport as well, thanks to its success. Taking a prepaid cab from Mumbai’s domestic airport in Santa Cruz was one of the most difficult tasks that air passengers had to deal with as soon as they landed in the Maximum City till the automated system began.
Frequent flyers were the most affected, as they not only had a tough time getting a cab, but had to regularly cough up unreasonable amounts to pay rogue taxi drivers.
Launched by the Mumbai International Airport Limited with the joint effort of the Andheri RTO, the airport police and the airport traffic police, the system has helped solve this problem to a large extent. In the new system, on booking a cab, passengers are given a slip notifying them of the taxi’s registration number.
Payal Prasad, a Goregaon resident, is very happy with this development. “For the last couple of months, things have become so much better. Getting a cab has become so much easier and there are less chances of getting cheated,” she said. Avril Noronha, a resident of Juhu, had a lot of difficulties in getting a cab for herself even after paying the amount at the counter. “Since my home is quite close to the airport, none of the cabbies wanted to come, even if it was their turn. However, now things have become much better. The authorities have also become more vigilant, so those cabbies cannot create problems any more,” said Noronha.
In the past, passengers used to regularly file complaints of fleecing and harassment at the Sahar police station. Despite multiple attempts by airport authority officials and the RTO to stop them, several rogue taxi drivers jumped queue to ferry passengers commuting long distances. They usually targeted passengers carrying extra luggage or those commuting long distances as it was easier to harrass them. At times, the drivers used to drop them midway and on several occasions they have been robbed as well.
A senior GVK official said, “Many of them were backed by political leaders and disrupted the entire process. This time, however, it has been very successful and so far we have not received any complaints regarding this.” With the new system in place, rogue taxi drivers can no longer jump queue. Since the registration number of the vehicle is on the slip, it is easier for the authorities to track down a particular driver in case of any untoward incident. Moreover, vigilant officials are always there to keep a watch on the drivers.
According to the Mumbai Taximen’s Union, the system has been running successfully after the third attempt. AL Quadros, head of the Mumbai Taximen’s Union, said, “All the problems were because of a few rogue taxi drivers, who allegedly received secret support from a few politicians and GVK and airport authority officials. Today, however, we have no complaints and are wholeheartedly supporting the initiative. It has been working very well so far,” he said. Quadros added, “Taxi drivers stand a chance of getting booked if they create any problems. So that solves the purpose.”
More than installing it, maintaining the system and stopping disruptions is more difficult. In the past, the system had been disrupted twice by rogue elements. This time, however, it has managed to function well and has not faced any kind of disruption.
“Not only does the new system keep touts at bay, it also makes the passengers feel more secure. Also, there are no chances of the passengers being asked to pay extra,” said Pradip Shinde, deputy RTO, Andheri RTO. Shinde also said that very soon the new system will also be installed at the international airport. “We are sure it will be a success there as well,” he said.