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Mumbai: Due to rise in CNG prices, taxi drivers prefer refusing fares than taking passengers of longer routes

This comes at a time when the largest black and yellow taxi union –- Mumbai Taximen's Union –- wrote a letter on May 2 to the Transport Department seeking immediate revision of taxi fares

Shashank Rao | Updated on: Wednesday, May 04, 2022, 08:22 PM IST

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The taxi unions are claiming that the drivers once again prefer refusing fares than taking passengers, especially long routes. The reason being the hike in compressed natural gas (CNG) prices that has touched Rs 76 per kg. The drivers prefer shorter journeys as they would burn less fuel and gas that forms almost 60 percent of their expenses.

This comes at a time when the largest black and yellow taxi union –- Mumbai Taximen's Union –- wrote a letter on May 2 to the Transport Department seeking immediate revision of taxi fares. According to the taxi drivers, the hike in CNG has made it all the more difficult to run longer journeys.

“We have to ensure that the gas is available for a longer duration. The government initially asked us to shift to CNG on grounds that it will be more economical. But within a few days, the CNG was hiked from Rs 60 to Rs 76. We prefer taking passengers for shorter routes as behind each trip we at least get minimum of Rs 25 rather than longer routes where we will earn more but we will spend almost the same in driving back into the island city where people prefer cabs,” explained Premnath Singh, a taxi driver who has been driving for more than three decades now.

The worry among drivers is that longer fares would mean getting stuck in traffic, running empty in the return journey, and burning fuel for no reason. Meanwhile the letter written by the Union mentions that 'on April 30, the prices of CNG was raised by Rs 4 per kg which now stands at Rs 76 per kg of CNG. We have been demanding the taxi fare revision however the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA)is not taking any action in the matter'.

“The price of CNG has increased by Rs 25 per kg since last year. This has put lot of pressure on our drivers as well and so they are skeptical about driving longer routes,” said A L Quadros, veteran union leader.

Sources said that the MMRTA is expected to meet on May 9 where a decision on fare hike might happen. The taxi unions claim that if the MMRTA and state government fails to take any decision then from June 1 they will suo-moto charge higher fares; which though would be illegal. They are demanding a base fare of Rs 30.

Considering the steady rise in CNG prices, taxi drivers are incurring a daily loss of Rs 200. Earlier in March 2021, the taxi fares were hiked from Rs 22 to Rs 25, while the auto rickshaw fares were hiked to Rs 21 from Rs 18. Back then, the cost of CNG was Rs 49 per kg. The auto rickshaw unions have demanded the minimum fare to be Rs 24 from the current Rs 21.

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Published on: Thursday, May 05, 2022, 06:59 AM IST