The public vehicles department has summoned 42 taxi and bus owners to its second hearing on April 24, based on complaints lodged through Facebook, email or phone about offences ranging from taxi refusal to fare fraud.
The majority of these vehicles are taxis whose drivers have allegedly refused passengers at various times or used fudged meters to fleece them.
Sources in the PVD said 16 of the 42 owners had been summoned to an earlier hearing, which they failed to attend. They risk being blacklisted for a second no-show.
Blacklisting would make these taxis ineligible for permit renewal and other clearances mandatory for commercial transport.
Metro had highlighted on Thursday how three taxis found guilty of refusing passengers at the first hearing were fined Rs 3,000, an amount 30 times the penalty slapped by police for the same offence.
“All these complaints were lodged between mid-March and early April. Most of the complainants said they were fed up with taxi drivers either refusing passengers or taking them for a ride,” a senior PVD official said.
With more complaints pouring in, the department has set up a three-member grievance redress team headed by its secretary to conduct hearings.
A hearing sees both sides being given the opportunity to present their version of an incident, based on which the panel arrives at an appropriate penalty. Each decision is recorded for reference.
“Elgin Road, Alipore Zoo, Patuli and Park Circus are among the areas where taxi refusal has been reported. Most of these instances occurred between 5.30pm and 7.30pm,” the PVD official said.
Purushottam Saraf, one of the complainants, took the Facebook route after being refused by a taxi in front of Belle Vue Clinic at 7.45pm on April 12. Using his mobile phone data connection, he posted his complaint within 15 minutes of the incident.
Krishna Lakhani Gadhia posted a complaint about an allegedly fudged or faulty taxi meter along with a picture of the taxi and its registration number.
On Thursday, the PVD posted a request to all complainants to attend the next hearing. “Your participation in the hearing process will help us take appropriate action against the taxi owners/drivers…” it wrote.
According to the West Bengal Motor Vehicles Rules, permits are to be issued for taxis on condition that 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.
For complaints about unfair fares, the PVD has decided to follow a zero-tolerance policy on uncalibrated meters. “By our estimate, at least 90 per cent of the taxis in Calcutta should have had calibrated metres by now,” an official said.
The PVD is also accepting complaints from commuters about some buses, including air-conditioned ones, not displaying the fare chart.