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Happy days are here again ?

Premier-Padmini-Mumbai-Taxi

Close on the heels of the Government's initiative to groom the errant and uncouth taxi / auto drivers in this metropolis, comes the news of a couple of steps being contemplated by the authorities to make life a little bearable for the common man who relies heavily on the pubic transport for his very survival.

The Government is planning to auction some 4000 defunct taxi permits to the private taxi operators like Meru, Gold Cabs, Easy cabs etc. The public is generally satisfied with their service particularly that of the drivers who are the real face of any such venture.  The driver comes in direct contact with the public and his attitude, behaviour etc go a long way in making the venture a success.  Their drivers are well dressed and are very cooperative.  Sometimes they are not able to stick to the promised time but given the traffic situation in this city, it is understandable. What is heartening is that they do not intend to revise their rates which makes the difference between them and the normal taxis very insignificant with  air-conditioned comfort.

By not offering permits to the available permits to the ordinary taxis, the authorities have sent a clear signal that their attitude is not appreciated and that 'aal is not well' when it comes to public satisfaction. In fact more than the taxi drivers, it is the Unions that are to be blamed who hold the city to ransom at the slightest opportunity.

The news of the share an auto scheme for all the suburban railway stations should come as a welcome relief to the public. The concept is laudable but the real test will lie in the actual implementation, monitoring and sustaining the project.  Many a times such exercises are undertaken but they die a premature death and we are back to square one. Who will supervise the queues and ensure that autos line up at the stand.  During peak hours they tend to by-pass the share an auto stands for more lucrative long distance fares. It is here that the authorities must come down heavily on such errant and defiant drivers.

The fares for share an auto scheme should be rounded off to the nearest rupee.  The 50 paise coins are an extinct commodity and the drivers will ensure that they do not have to return the change. Better legitimize the loot.  Remember when the 'flag-down' fare was Rs 9, 9 out of 10 times you never got the rupee back.  All said and done, kudos to the authorities - at least they are showing some concern which is very encouraging.

-Marshall Sequeira

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