While the new electronic tariff meters or e-meters were designed to deter cabbies from fleecing passengers, the lackadaisical attitude of the state government in enforcing the recalibration of these units has allowed taxi drivers to continue overcharging people.
The state government had set May 31 as the deadline for taxi drivers and owners to recalibrate e-meters as per the new tariff. Up till then, around 20,000 of the black and yellow taxis fitted with e-meters had been running on the old tariff of minimum fare of Rs 16. Over a month-and-half later, neither the state government nor the black and yellow taxi unions seem keen on taking to trouble to make the necessary changes.
This however, has given taxi drivers a chance to overcharge passengers while citing random figures as the revised tariff.
As per the modus operandi, these taxi drivers operate according to their own rates and come up with a particular amount after the journey ends. For instance, if the fare on the e-meter with old calibration shows Rs 31, the driver brazenly charges the passenger Rs 40 or so for a journey that technically should amount to Rs 33.
To make matters worse, many of these drivers don’t even carry the new tariff cards distributed by the Regional Transport Offices (RTOs). Sources in the RTO said that the cards are meant for verification of the revised rate and should come in handy for both drivers and passengers.
“If the driver doesn’t show the revised tariff card, the passenger can pay him the amount displayed on the e-meter having the old calibration,” said M Jadhav, RTO (Tardeo), who is responsible for overseeing vehicles, including taxis, registered in south Mumbai.
Other officials in the RTO agreed that ever since the deadline ended on May 31, they haven’t pressurized the unions, who are waiting for a revision in tariffs again. The taxi unions claim that out of the 22,000 black and yellow taxis, there are hardly any that have recalibrated e-meters.
“We are waiting for the Hakeem Committee report to be released by the end of this month with the revised tariff,” said Taxi Union leader A Quadros, confirming that barely five per cent of the 22,000 taxis with e-meters have been recalibrated according to the new fares. The cost of recalibration of an e-meter is around Rs 600, though the taxi unions claim that each driver pays up to Rs 1,200 for the same.