One of the 800 blue-and-white taxis that have recently hit the streets
The Bengal government wants to battle taxi refusal by flooding the roads with taxis.
Transport minister Madan Mitra suggested on Thursday that refusal would come down if the supply of taxis far outstrips the demand.
“We will introduce another 10,000 taxis. More than 3,500 of them will run in the area under the Calcutta PVD (public vehicles directorate),” transport minister Madan Mitra said. “The rest will be for adjacent areas, including pockets in North and South 24-Parganas.”
Calcutta has some 20,000 taxis, most of which are the ones sporting yellow and blue.
The transport department had in March issued “offer letters” to around 3,000 applicants planning to roll out blue-and-white taxis in and around Calcutta. Around 800 such taxis have already hit the streets.
While there is no count on the number of passengers relying on taxis for their daily commute, department officials say the demand is several times more than the supply.
The decision to add more to the fleet to bridge the demand-supply gap may be an intelligent one but a similar move in the past had failed to stop incidence of taxi refusal.
Senior officers of the traffic police and the PVD said refusals were not restricted to any particular period, like the mornings or nights. Commuters suffer refusal throughout the day, said a PVD official.
“Refusals are, indeed, a problem. But the incidence of refusal has come down considerably. The government will shortly work out a strategy to eliminate refusal,” transport minister Mitra said.
Not all passengers, though, share the minister’s thoughts. “Recently I wanted to catch a taxi at Alipore in the afternoon to travel to Esplanade. Several cabbies refused to ferry me,” said Rajeev Chatterjee, a Behala resident.
Metro has been reporting on taxi refusal and highlighting the plight of passengers waiting to return home in the evening. Spurred by the reports, the PVD decided to crack the whip, slapping a fine of Rs 3,000 on drivers refusing passengers. The move has already sent strong signals to a large section of taxi drivers.
“We will continue with our drive,” said a PVD official, adding that the process of blacklisting errant taxis is on.
Transport department insiders said that while the decision to introduce more taxis is aimed at generating more revenues through permit fees, the political overtone of the move couldn’t be missed. “Youths owing allegiance to Trinamul will get preference in bagging the permit,” said an insider.
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