Mumbai may finally get breather from auto, taxi hikes; not this year though
Reacting to the strong public uproar against the consistent hikes in taxi and auto rickshaw fares in the city, including one that is set to take effect from June 1, the state transport department has scrapped the Hakim Committee, which had recommended the fare revision formula that is currently used to calculate the quantum of hikes.
The one-member committee under PMA Hakim, former secretary to the union government, was formed in 2012 to come up with a replacement for a nineties-era fare formula. A new committee, which will be headed by a retired high court judge and have an economics expert and a retired transport officer of the rank of transport commissioner or additional transport commissioner as its other members, will now study the issue and come out with a fresh formula within six months from its appointment.
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However, the June 1 hike, determined as per the Hakim panel’s formula, will still be granted and the vehicles will have their meters recalibrated as per the new fare. State transport minister Diwakar Raote made the announcement about the scrapping of the Hakim panel yesterday. “People are not happy with the fare hike and expected me to take a decision. We have decided to come out with a new formula.”
He said that the new committee would also help the government to present its side in a litigation filed by the Mumbai Grahak Panchayat in 2012. “Though the high court has not stayed the Hakim panel recommendations, it has said that the one-man committee may not be sufficient to ensure that the fare determination was scientific,” Raote said.
While according to the Hakim Committee’s recommendations, taxis and auto rickshaws have been getting a fare hike every summer (from May 1) since 2012 , the new panel will review the yearly 14% interest rate on the finance availed for buying vehicles, yearly insurance cover which the transport authorities say is not bought by vehicle owners income made from displaying advertisements/commercials on the vehicles and yearly maintenance costs before arriving on a new formula. The panel will also do a comparative study of the fare hike granted and the actual inflation in the past 4 years. The new formula may not result in a hike every year.
June 1 hike
From June 1, the minimum fare for autos and taxis will go up from Rs 17 to Rs 18 and Rs 21 to Rs 22 respectively for 1.5 km. The hike per subsequent km will rise from the existing Rs 11.33 to Rs 12.18 for autos and from Rs 13.96 to Rs 14.84 a km for taxis.
The formula which has been in use so far takes into account several factors, including fuel price hike in the past year, increase in costs of mainte-nance, capital costs, taxes and insurance and most importantly, the cost of living index, to arrive at the quantum of hike.