Unions of yellow/metered taxis threaten two-day strike
Several unions of yellow/metered taxis have threatened a 48-hour strike beginning August 12 if the state government does not respond to their pleas for a fare hike.
Earlier, the CPM’s labour arm Citu had called a taxi strike on August 6 and 7 demanding fare revision.
There are around 14,000 metered taxis in the city. For the last few years, the owners have been saying the existing fare is not in sync with the cost of fuel and other operational expenses.
The Bengal government had last revised the fares in 2018 when the lowest fare, for the first 2km, was fixed at Rs 30. Thereafter, the fare would increase by Rs 3 for every additional 200 metres.
On Tuesday, taxi owners demanded that the lowest fare be fixed at Rs 50 for the first 2km. Thereafter, they said, the fare should increase by Rs 5 per 200 metres.
“The price of diesel is Rs 93.02 a litre. Three years back, on the same date, the price was Rs 71.08 a litre. There has been a rise of over Rs 20 a litre but the fares have remained the same,” said Bimal Guha of the Bengal Taxi Association. “How can this be feasible for taxi operators?”
For some time now, most taxi operators across Calcutta have stopped agreeing to ferry passengers at metered fares. Instead, they quote a lump sum for any destination, anytime of the day. Several taxi drivers on Tuesday said the metered fare had long ceased to exist for all practical purposes but the government would not admit it.
“There aren’t enough passengers…. Many drivers prefer to keep their vehicles parked at home,” said Shyamal Maity, a yellow cab driver.