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Revised BEST fares bring taxi unions to their knees

Now, they demand minimum fare of Rs 25 as opposed to the previous Rs 30

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Revised BEST fares bring taxi unions to their knees
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A proposal to reduce bus fares by the Brihanmumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking has brought the taxi unions to their knees. On June 20, the BEST Undertaking not only proposed to decrease the minimum bus fare to Rs 5 but also ride three kilometers extra from current base fare per kilometer. This has made the taxi unions go back in their demands of a revision in the minimum fare from the current Rs. 22 to Rs 30.

Now, they demand a minimum fare of Rs 25 and are also contemplating to reduce tariffs for share-taxi rides as well.

Soon after the BEST announced its proposal of reducing fares, bringing down the minimum to Rs 5 for the first 5 kms, the taxi unions called for a meeting. According to sources, the union members were anxious that after taxi aggregator services, the BEST buses will eat into the customer base of regular city cab drivers.

"We want a fare hike, but now we have revised the minimum fare to Rs 25. The new BEST fare structure will affect taximen's business," said AL Quadros, leader of a taxi union.

Earlier this month the same taxi unions had demanded a steep hike of Rs 30 in the minimum fare and Rs 20 as per km from the existing Rs 22. This is lesser than the fare hike recommended by Hakim panel or Khatua committee formula that would have increased taxi to Rs 26-Rs 28.

In a letter to Maharashtra Transport Minister Diwakar Raote, the Union said that the last fare was revised to Rs 22 in June 2015 following the High Court's order. Thereafter, there was no revision in priices despite the fact that the CNG prices have increased five times. They even threatened to agitate if the fare is not revised to Rs 30.

Also, the unions are mulling over reducing share-taxi fares, which at present is decided by dividing the sum of the amount for the entire ride along with 33% incentive with the number of passengers. According to sources, even this amount could dip in the days to come so as to make it competitive as against the BEST buses.

Meanwhile, the BEST will be getting 450 Midi/Mini buses that are smaller in size. These will maneuver on narrower roads and as per future plans, become modes of transport for connecting Metro rail stations on various routes, thus, posing a major threat to kaali-peeli business.

At present, office goers prefer share taxis since the waiting period of buses are high. Also, the turnaround time for taxis is faster. However, if the BEST undergoes an overhaul it prove to be a major competition to other modes of transport. The BEST will be adding 1000 AC buses in the months to come apart from smaller midi/mini buses.

Currently, the total number of daily passengers travelling in BEST buses has dropped to 25 lakh or so; which, a couple of years ago was 42 lakh. Of these, around 55% of commuters travelled only for 5 kms in BEST buses.

According to sources, the officials expect another 10-12 lakh people to switch their modes of transport to BEST buses once this change comes into play. It is expected to restructure public transportation in the city which will incentivise people to take public transport

The share taxis usually ferry 4-6 passengers to and from railway stations to residential and workspaces. Mumbai has around 45,000 black and yellow taxis and is one of the popular modes of transport for many citizens. However, with the reduction in BEST fares, the popularity of kaali-peelis are at stake.

RED ALERT FOR KAALI-PEELIS

  • Earlier this month, city’s taxi union demanded a revision in the minimum fare from the current Rs 22 to Rs 30, citing rising CNG prices and a loss incurred by taxi operators 
     
  • Soon after the BEST announced its proposal of reducing fares, bringing down the minimum to Rs 5 for the first 5 kms, the taxi unions called for a meeting. 
     
  • According to sources, the union members were anxious that after taxi aggregator services, the BEST buses will eat into the customer base of regular city cab drivers 
     
  • Apart from reducing their demand of minimum fare to Rs 25, they are also contemplating to reduce tariffs for share-taxi rides as well
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