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Mumbai taxis to sport 'For Hire' signs from June

All taxis may soon be fitted with signs on the roof to make it clear whether they are available or not; Transport department hopes this will help both passengers and drivers, and also lead to fewer refusals

Come June, it is likely that the roofs of black-and-yellow taxis plying in Mumbai will have ‘For Hire’ indicators. The Transport department is working towards finalising a rule that will state that these vehicles shall have to display such boards to help people know whether a taxi is available or not.

Also read: Mumbai traffic police chief approves of switching on AC in regular taxis

With these old meters making way for the electronic meters inside cabs, passengers can no longer see from a distance if a cab is empty or not. File pic
With these old meters making way for the electronic meters inside cabs, passengers can no longer see from a distance if a cab is empty or not. File pic

Sources at the Transport department told this paper that that the notification about the rule will likely arrive next month from the state government. A draft notification was prepared in January. “Once we get the final notification, we will start the process of implementation immediately,” the source said.

Also read: Mumbai cabbies to 'beg' for more taxi stands

If the light on top of the cab is on, it would mean there is no passenger in the taxi. Representational pic
If the light on top of the cab is on, it would mean there is no passenger in the taxi. Representational pic

They added that once the rules are in place, people can also complain on a toll-free number, if drivers don’t display the sign. When the taxi men go to RTOs to obtain their regular fitness certificate, authorities would check them for the ‘For Hire’ sign an absence of which would invite a fine.

The older taxis had mechanical meters installed, which showed passengers whether the taxi was available for hiring. With the electronic meters being installed inside most vehicles, people find it difficult to know whether a driver is interested in plying or not.

Also read: Mumbai to finally get new taxi stand signboards

The rooftop indicator will display a light if there is no passenger sitting inside, so that people can flag the cab if they wish to. There could also be something called an ‘Off Duty’ indicator, which is mainly meant to curtail refusals.

Sources in the Transport department said that the ‘Off Duty’ sign would also show whether the driver is interested in driving. This could prove effective in curbing refusals by the taxi drivers, as the driver needs to switch on the ‘Off Duty’ light if one is not interested in plying passengers.

“These indicators will help both the drivers and passengers, as it would show whether a cab is available or not,” said A Quadros, taxi union leader, who claims that he doesn’t have any objections with its implementation. The union claims these indicators would be made of acrylic and would cost the driver at least Rs 3,000 per piece.

There are 42,000 taxis – including 4,000 Cool Cabs – which will have these indicators installed. Auto rickshaws will also follow suit after taxis start following this rule.

In the days to come, the Transport department is also opening more than 7,000-black and yellow taxi permits, thus improving the number of taxis on road. Currently, around 2,800 fleet cabs in the city operate with the ‘For Hire’ sign.

Transport department says
Speaking to mid-day, Transport Commissioner V N More said, “This rule is not yet finalised and a notification from the state government is yet to come.” He further added that once the rule is implemented, if taxi drivers do not display the sign, it will be treated as a violation.

International standards


London:
 Cabs available for hire have a light on top displaying the word 'TAXI'. Once hired, the light is switched off.


New York:
 In November 2012, the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission voted to overhaul the roof-light system for yellow taxis, eliminating the off-duty designation so that the lights will convey only two possibilities: available or unavailable.


Tokyo:
 A red light in the windscreen means the cab is available, a green light means it is on 30% extra night fare (11pm - 5am) and no light means it is taken

Complaint helpline: When the rule is implemented and you find a taxi without the ‘For Hire’ sign, you can complain on the toll-free number: 1-800-220110

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