Mumbai: Auto and taxi drivers apprehensive about the fare hike

Everyone loves a raise in their earnings. But for once the auto-rickshaw and taxi drivers are apprehensive about the fare hike that will be implemented from March 1. In the last couple of days there have been meetings between the unions and the drivers where the latter have raised their concerns.

Due to the pandemic, people have lost jobs, livelihood and their earnings have halved. “Already the drivers are complaining about lesser earnings in the past few weeks since lockdown has been eased. Now with the fare hike, many have informed us about how it would further hurt their earnings,” said KK Tiwari, auto rickshaw union leader who has held few meetings with drivers ever since the hike was announced.

At the meetings, the drivers told the union that people were still concerned about travelling long distance in autos and cabs. And people are using these autos and taxis to ply only till railway stations. In fact outside few stations, the share auto stands have also lowered their fares by Rs 2-3. In the decision taken, the Transport department has also increased the base fare in share-autos and taxis from Rs 8 to Rs 9.

“We fear that people will not travel in autos as there has been a hike of Rs 3 and even gradual kilometers too. Already, our daily earnings have dropped from average of Rs 800-1000 to Rs 300-400 after deducting expenses. A hike will mean that people will avoid taking autos and taxis,” said Dinesh Singh, an auto driver from Santacruz.

The queues at BEST bus stops are also getting longer with daily average crossing 25 lakh passengers. While people are travelling in share autos and share-taxis, though this hasn’t been approved yet, to avoid unnecessary expenditure without paying heed to risks from Covid-19. The auto fares will be Rs 21 and taxi will be Rs 25 from Monday.

Even public bodies like the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat want the government to defer this fare hike that has taken place after June 2015. They have written a letter to the state Transport minister as well.

The process of recalibrating will also begin from March 1, for the 30,000 taxis and 2.20 lakh auto rickshaws. The government is planning to introduce physical tariff cards and publicize it on social media for easing the process as a temporary measure, the unions claim that this could cause problems on ground.

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