Cabbies can't cry 'un-fare' now

After resisting cab aggregators like Uber and Ola, Mumbai taxi unions have realised there is a better way to attract customers than holding them to ransom. They are considering introducing a mobile app through which users can book black-n-yellow cabs, potentially paving the way for a sea change in the way the city’s public transportation system functions.

Union leaders are to have a meeting shortly to work out the modalities of their mobile app. The black-and-yellow taxis not only lost patrons, but several cabbies have themselves gone over to mobile aggregator companies.

While the cabbies will naturally to do everything to keep themselves in business, a better way would be first to adhere to the rule that one cannot say no to a customer. Though there is ire and there have been several protests against the aggregators for taking away business, cabbies continue to refuse fare on different, and quite innovative, pretexts. Sometimes the passenger is refused because the cab has to be handed over to another driver. Then, there is the old classic move of opening the hood of the cab and looking under it, as if there is something wrong. Some simply shake their heads in disdain and yet others drive by, pretending not to have heard the person trying to flag him down or deliberately ignore him.

Recent campaigns by different groups have centred around the increasing tendency to refuse fare. These lost steam soon enough, after which cabbies went back to their old ways. If they change their ways, they will not need any app to keep them in business. The black-and-yellow cabs must know that an alternative arises when a vacuum is created — if they continue to refuse passengers, there are others to take the business.

They cannot cry ‘un-fare’ when the aggregators muscle in and take customers away. Demand for cabs still exceeds supply. A better attitude could ensure that black-and-yellows continue to get passengers. There may not be a need then to resist aggregators or even to join them.

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