BMC Election: Mumbaikars! Brace for no transport during poll week
On election duty or time to take a nap?
Usually, election time is like the honeymoon period, special attention is showered on you and the red carpet is rolled out. But, this time round, prepare to sacrifice your public transport for three days — February 19 to 21 — and expect a shortage of taxis and buses on roads.
Why? Because the government has approved and asked city RTO offices to make about 3,056 taxis, 292 BEST buses (252 regular single decker and 40 mini) along with 115 air-conditioned SUVs, available for election duty from midnight of February 19, till the end of election process. On behalf of the BMC, four city RTO offices are going to hire these vehicles using the provisions in the law.
What's this for?
These vehicles would be mainly used for ferrying election duty staffers along with polling material and EVMs to and from their polling booths -- on the polling day and corresponding days. According to sources in the Transport department, “the civic body has registered a requirement of 1,375 taxis in the western suburbs, followed by 1,001 taxis in eastern suburbs and remaining 680 in the island city”. There are nearly 42,000 taxis on road, but if such a large number of taxis go off-road for three days, passengers might face difficulties.
Meanwhile, it has been learnt from sources that though the BMC has approved 292 buses for use to ferry election material and election staff, along with security personals in 227 electoral wards, it has put in a request for 750, depending on the need at the time.
A RTO official said their duty is to facilitate the procurement of the vehicles, while BMC will take care of payment as per the rate fixed by Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority.
What's it going to cost?
AL Quadros, leader of Mumbai Taximens' Union said: “We have received an offer of R2,000 per day fare from the authorities. The blue-silver cool cabs will also go off roads. The taxis will be getting R13.5 per km while cool cabs will get R13.90 per km. The yellow-plated tourist permit taxis are also being roped in for the same.”
Meanwhile, the buses will be fitted with grills and BEST will get anywhere between R4,000 to R7,200 per bus for the same. The Election Commission will also get some trucks and tempos within a price range of R2,800 to R3,800.
If 750 of the total 3,800 BEST buses go off road, along with the average 350 buses that are usually out for routine maintenance, there could be shortage of buses on road.