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Hard time for Mumbaikars as taxis, autos go on strike

Passengers at airports, railway and bus terminals worst sufferers as rains continue.


Nithin Belle

Published: Tue 16 Jun 2015, 10:44 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 2:58 PM

Mumbai — Thousands of commuters here suffered on Monday as taxis and autorickshaws went on a daylong strike to protest against the growing presence of taxi aggregators including Uber and Ola, which are denting their business.

With heavy rains continuing to lash Mumbai, passengers at airports, railway and bus terminals were the worst sufferers, as the few taxis and autos that were not on strike fleeced them by charging double or even three times the normal fare.

Worried about the growing popularity of taxis operated by Uber, Ola and other aggregators, the traditional taxi and autorickshaw operators are feeling the pinch here and have been reporting loss in business.

Many taxis and autorickshaws in Mumbai arbitrarily refuse to ply short distances, or on routes that they do not desire to go on. Commuters at busy railway stations have a frustrating time during the morning and evening peak hours, as both taxis and autos refuse to take them to their destination.

But with the entry of thousands of new vehicles — that can be summoned through an app or through a call centre — commuters have found an alternative mode of transport. Taxis operated by Uber and Ola offer competitive rates, especially during off-peak hours. The vehicles are also well-maintained and the pricing policy is also transparent.

Increasingly, many of the existing drivers of the black-and-yellow taxis are opting to join these aggregators, worrying the traditional unions which are affiliated to political parties.

Monday’s strike, for instance was called by the Swabhiman Union, founded by Nitesh, son of former Shiv Sainik and now disgruntled Congress leader, Narayan Rane.

However, A.L. Quadros, the leader of the largest taxi union, did not join in the strike. One of the largest autorickshaw unions has warned that its members will be on strike on Wednesday. The state government’s road transport authority issues licences to taxis and autorickshaws on condition that they will travel all across the metropolis and will not refuse fares.

They are also supposed to operate electronic, tamper-proof metres and not overcharge customers.

But many taxis and autorickshaws blatantly flout the rules and refuse to take passengers during the rush hour.

The entry of radio taxis controlled by fleet operators and of cab aggregators has come as a big shock for the unionised operators. Many of their members are transferring their licences to the fleet operators or signing up with the aggregators.


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