State government sitting on proposal to install GPS in cabs

For more than a year, the state Transport department has not taken a decision over getting the black and yellow taxis to install the GPS location-tracking devices in their vehicles for passenger safety

While the government has asked private cab operators and mobile app-based services to submit detailed proposals on passenger safety measures, they have taken no such precautions with the black and yellow taxis, which far outnumber the private cabs.

Transport officials said a proposal involved fitting GPS devices in black and yellow taxis, in order to keep a tab on the movement of every taxi plying in the city. File pic for representation
Transport officials said a proposal involved fitting GPS devices in black and yellow taxis, in order to keep a tab on the movement of every taxi plying in the city. File pic for representation

The proposal to install the Global Positioning System (GPS) in the black and yellow cabs has been lying dormant. The proposal, Transport officials said, involved fitting GPS devices in black and yellow taxis, in order to keep a tab on the movement of every taxi plying in the city.

This plan has been lying with the Transport department for more than a year. “The authorities haven’t yet taken a decision on installing GPS in the existing black and yellow taxis,” said A L Quadros, taxi union leader.

On the other hand, Transport authorities went hammer and tongs at radio cab operators and mobile app-based services, after a driver from Uber, a cab aggregation service, allegedly raped a woman in Delhi recently. Yesterday was the last day for them to submit proposals on passenger safety measures to the government (see box).

“We have received proposals from different private fleet cabs and mobile app-based cab owners. We will scrutinise them now,” said a Transport department official, who did not want to be named. These suggestions, after a careful study by the government, are likely to be implemented by January 15.

Transport experts feel the same due diligence needs to be paid to black and yellow cabs, too. “If the authorities are taking a decision for private cab owners, then why not for black and yellow taxis too? Such incidents can happen anywhere.

The Transport department should ensure that GPS is installed in all cabs by 2015,” said A Shenoy, transport expert from Mumbai Transport Forum. The cost of installing this device is pegged at Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 each.

Official speak
Government officials say the process (for installing GPS) has begun with the online issuance of 7,800 dead permits for black and yellow cabs earlier this November. “We have made it mandatory for the new black and yellow taxis to have GPS installed in their vehicles,” said an RTO official.

These new taxis are also required to have an electronic meter, and drivers need to display their permits and licences, police and women helpline numbers and RTO contact details inside the vehicle.

Officials added that the existing black and yellow taxis too would slowly incorporate these changes, when they come to the RTO to renew their fitness certificates.

Passenger safety measures
Some of the safety measures being considered for execution in private radio cabs and mobile app-based services are: 
>> A mandatory badge to be worn by the driver of the fleet or radio cab company. If found without it, both driver and operator to face action
>> A ‘panic’ or ‘SOS’ button inside these taxis 
>> Intensified verification process of drivers, including police verification, genuine proof of residence and other papers

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