Yesterday, this paper carried a front page report on how taxis in the city would in all likelihood have to sport a sign saying ‘For Hire’ or ‘Off Duty’ by next month. This is to enable passengers to know whether the cab is ready to pick up passengers or unavailable to ply.
Authorities have stated that this rule is most likely to be implemented by June. If it does, it comes not a day too soon, given the harrowing time commuters have during the monsoon, when it comes to getting cabs, for short or long distances. For a while now, commuters and cabbies have been engaged in a running battle, as commuters blame cabbies for refusing to ply on the pretext of a plethora of excuses.
Cabbies meanwhile, have their litany of woes, from lack of cab stands, to time constraints, the paucity of CNG stations and much more. This sign, though certainly not foolproof, is just one more attempt to close that gap between cabbies and commuters and to pull the plug on excuses that taxi drivers give for their refusal to ply. One suggests that this sign should be illuminated so that it is easier to spot on gloomy, overcast monsoon months.
Even now, one sees that cabbies continue to refuse passengers even after aggressive campaigns targeting such refusals. We see that things improve sporadically during and after a spirited campaign, yet, after a few days, this effect wears off and we are back to square one cabbies refusing to ply for reasons. They lack enough CNG, the cab has to be transferred to another driver, there is engine trouble there is always some other excuse that commuters are tired of hearing.
Commuters are held to ransom particularly during the monsoon, where public conveyance is overcrowded and stretched to its limit. During heavy rain days one can see commuters practically begging cabbies or peering into windows, trying to see if the cab is taken or free for plying. Any effort simplifying things for commuters and making clear whether cabs are ready to ply or not, is welcome.