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No-refusal fleet flaunts and flouts
Colour change, not cab code

The two-month-old, 450-strong fleet of white-and-blue taxis with “no refusal” written on either side have started refusing passengers or demanding “extra” just like their recalcitrant yellow cousins.

Metro had conducted a road test on yellow cabs on December 19, coinciding with the inaugural run of the no-refusal taxis that were supposed to take passengers anywhere any time, no questions asked.

As many as 10 out of 11 yellow taxis failed the no-refusal test that day, but that didn’t surprise as much as the result of a repeat test on the no-refusal fleet last Monday. Six out of the 12 no-refusal taxis surveyed either refused or demanded more than the metered fare to various destinations (see chart).

The reasons for refusal, wherever provided, were similar to those heard during the survey two months ago. The redeeming feature was the behaviour of the drivers, who didn’t abuse or try to intimidate like their counterparts in the yellow taxis are wont to do.

Transport minister Madan Mitra, who had promised strict compliance while rolling out the fleet two months ago, said complaints against no-refusal taxis would be investigated. “If we receive specific complaints against drivers, we will take strict action against them,” he said.

Sources in the transport department said 2,000 more no-refusal taxis would be introduced in the city in phases, half of them air-conditioned. Fares would remain the same as that for equivalent rides on regular taxis, barring a 25 per cent premium if a passenger wants to travel in air-conditioned comfort.

According to the West Bengal Motor Vehicles Rules, permits are to be issued for both types of taxis on condition that the drivers will not refuse passengers. Section 120 of the rules states that no taxi can refuse passengers, charge more than the metered fare or ply as a shuttle car. Drivers are also required to ferry passengers through the shortest possible routes.

Permits can be cancelled after multiple violations. “Contravention of the rules invites a penalty under Section 192A of the Motor Vehicles Act, where the minimum fine is Rs 2,000,” an officer of Calcutta police said.

Traffic sergeants usually slap a fine of Rs 100 for taxi refusal. “The driver’s licence gets punched. Five such instances and the licence gets cancelled,” the officer said.

Asked why the police wouldn’t fine an errant driver Rs 2,000, an officer of the South Traffic Guard blamed “faulty interpretation” of rules for the token penalty.

‘don’t take our tag too seriously’

 

  • Place: Gariahat
  • Destination: Behala Chowrasta
  • Time: 2.30pm, Monday
  • Driver: Pay me Rs 250
  • Metro: But that’s more than double the fare.
  • Driver: There is a good chance I won’t find a passenger for the return journey, so you have to pay for both trips.
  • Metro: I will call the police and lodge a complaint against you.
  • The driver smiles and drives off towards the Rashbehari crossing
  • Taxi No: WB 04F 8903

 

  • Place: Deshapriya Park
  • Destination: Behala Chowrasta
  • Time: 2.45 pm
  • Driver: I won’t go that way.
  • Metro: You can’t say no with “No refusal” written in bold across your taxi.
  • Driver: We don’t want to refuse passengers but what to do? It’s difficult to get passengers from Behala because many people think our fares are higher than that of the yellow cabs.
  • Taxi No: WB 04F 9092

 

  • Place: Chingrihata
  • Destination: Howrah
  • Time: 5.30pm
  • Driver: You have to pay me Rs 250.
  • Metro: Why should I pay so much?
  • Driver: I will be forced to get into the prepaid taxi queue once I reach Howrah. Why should I take the trouble if I don’t get anything extra from the trip?
  • Metro: I will lodge a complaint with the police.
  • Rolls up the window and speeds away
  • Taxi No: WB 04F 8771

 

  • Place: Park Street
  • Destination: Lake Town
  • Time: 7.30pm
  • Driver: That will be Rs 30 more than the metered fare.
  • Metro: But you are not supposed to charge anything extra.
  • Driver: Come on, this a brand new car! And Rs 30 won’t pinch your pocket much.
  • Metro: I will only pay what the meter shows.
  • Driver: Then keep standing.
  • Taxi speeds away
  • Taxi No: WB 04F 3537

 

  • Place: Chandni Chowk
  • Destination: Sealdah
  • Time: 9.30pm
  • Driver: I won’t travel such a short distance.
  • Metro: But you are driving a no-refusal taxi!
  • Driver: Don’t take this so seriously.
  • Taxi No: WB 11C 3469

 

  • Place: Beleghata
  • Destination: Behala
  • Time: 10pm
  • Driver: I won’t go that way.
  • Metro: But a no-refusal taxi can’t refuse a passenger, can it?
  • Driver: We don’t get a taxi permit unless we are ready to ply with a no-refusal tag. But that doesn’t mean I will have to follow it.Taxi speeds away
  • Taxi No: WB 11C 3618

TAXIS THAT DIDN’T REFUSE US

  • Place: Behala
  • Destination: Howrah station
  • Taxi No: WB 04F 9063

 

  • Place: Gariahat
  • Destination: Thakurpukur
  • Taxi No: WB 04F 9266

 

  • Place: Chingrihata
  • Destination: Howrah
  • Taxi No: WB 04F 9183

 

  • Place: Park Circus
  • Destination: Nagerbazar
  • Taxi No: WB 04F 9046

 

  • Place: Park Circus
  • Destination: Garia
  • Taxi No: WB 04F 9181

 

  • Place: Taratala
  • Destination: Chandni Chowk
  • Taxi No: WB 07J 0127
  • This driver didn’t even ask for the destination until the vehicle had moved some distance