Many Mumbaikars have more than once strained their arms trying to flag down a taxi without success. People wonder at the audacity of cabbies for turning them down and cherry-picking commuters. The answer lies in numbers. There are just 30,000 taxis in the city for 20 lakh potential passengers. So when a taxiwallah turns down a commuter, he knows he’ll probably see 66 more during the day.
“People are forced to wait for long periods and when they get turned down repeated by taxi drivers, tempers start to soar,” said a taxi union head. While the population of the city is growing every day, the total number of taxis on the roads has come down from 63,000 in 1997 to 30,000 today.
Anthony Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen’s Union, said, “The deamand for taxis has increased, but the supply has decreased. RTOs have cancelled taxi permits to sell them to private vehicles.”
Tired of the wait, many citizens have decided to take things one step at a time. Geeta Desai, who works at Nariman Point, said, “It ruins my whole day, when I keep hearing ‘no’ from the taxi drivers. Initially I used to waste almost 15 minutes daily pleading cabbies to take me to my office. But since last month, I have started walking till Nariman Point.”
There are others. Ankita Doshi, who works near KEM hospital, has problems finding a taxi till Dadar or Lower Parel every day. “I have no option but have to wait. I cannot walk till Dadar. I’ve never got a taxi in less than 10 minutes,” she told MiD DAY.
According to Quadros, since 1997 over 22,000 taxi permits have been cancelled and many have not been renewed. Also, there are drivers who don’t get their permits refreshed. “There are different reasons for which RTOs cancel permits. Many drivers have joined private cab companies. Every year, more than 1,500 taxi permits are being cancelled,” said Quadros.