The black-and-yellow cabs or the kaali peelis, one of the symbols of Mumbai, could disappear from the city altogether if their dwindling numbers are anything to go by. And the new vehicle scrapping policy, which provides citizens with incentives to junk light motor vehicles above 20 and 15 years of age, has pushed the kaali peelis to the brink.
The back of the envelope calculations suggest that with the policy in place, 25% of the black-and-yellow taxis will go off the roads.
According to the taxi unions, there are 20,000 kaali peelis on roads, though 36,000 taxis are still registered with the RTOs. Once the vehicle age is lowered to 15 years from the present 20 years, at least 5,000 black-and-yellow taxis will go off the roads. “These include around a hundred Premier Padminis as well which are expected to run till 2022. There are around 5,000 taxis of different models that are nearing 15 years or have already crossed that age,” senior taxi union leader AL Quadros said.
The Mumbai Taximen’s Union has asked the government to provide Rs 1,500 per driver as Covid reimbursement for losing earnings. In 2008, the Maharashtra government banned all taxis over 25 years and in 2013, they revised to taxi’s age to 20 years. And now age limit is proposed at 15 years.
While one of the city’s oldest taxi unions has been appealing to the state Transport Department to not bring down the vehicle age, taxi unions have already sought vehicle permit extensions and age-limit waive off for two years citing Covid-induced financial burdens. “At present there is no clarity or compulsion to buy e-vehicles as taxis though the government wants all public transport to be electric by 2030. We will surely need subsidy so that permit holders and owners can buy e-vehicles as Covid has hit earnings,” Quadros said.
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