'We want more buses'
With a few gearing up for an auto-taxi boycott today, to some asking for more buses on the roads, and some preferring to walk it out, it seems the residents of the city are finding it hard to come to terms with the recent auto-taxi fare hike.
This is because the hike in auto-taxi fares has started burning a hole in their pockets and their budgets are getting squeezed to the max. With fares almost doubling after the recent fare hike, taxi and auto passengers now prefer to walk or board a BEST bus to their destinations.
Jyotsna Kumari, who works near KEM hospital used to alight at Dadar railway station and hire a taxi to her office near KEM. But, ever since the fares have increased, she has been weighing her options. “With the fare almost doubling now, I prefer getting off at Currey Road and walking or taking a bus from Dadar. To offset the new demand, BEST authorities should increase their services,” said Kumari.
She is not the only commuter demanding increased services, Sunil Bhandarkar, another daily traveller, is giving credence to her plight.
Bhandarkar commutes by auto from Borivli to Dahisar, but after the hike he is paying an additional Rs 30 for the same distance plied. “There is a good frequency of buses on the Borivli-Dahisar route, but it becomes impossible to board during peak hours. I have demanded BEST authorities to increase the frequency of buses at Magathane bus depot in Borivili (E),” said Bhandarkar.
According to the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) authorities, they are getting several demands from residents asking them to increase their bus fleet and services.
Ravi Raja, BEST committee member, said, “There is a surge in people asking for more buses in the past few days. We are getting calls, messages and even letters requesting and demanding increase in services.” Raja further stated that the authorities are keen to address the grievances of commuters, and they will soon commence the process to augment existing services. “There are fewer buses plying in the afternoon, and we will boost services during this time. Peak hour services will also be improved,” said Raja, adding that this is the best opportunity for the administration to prove their capabilities. And prove to passengers that they are here to serve the people.
Since the past few days, messages have been circulated calling for a boycott of auto rickshaws and taxis today against the fare hike. Anil Galgali, chairman of Athak Seva Sangh, said, “We have send messages asking people to boycott autos and taxis because of their demand for absurd fares.”
Different groups have joined in and are supporting this protest, appealing to passengers to refrain from travelling by autos and taxis. A letter from State Government Employees Union and Maharashtra State Gazette Officers Federation has also been circulated requesting people to take alternative modes of transport today.
“To mark the protest against taxi and rickshaw drivers who refuse fares and also indulge in meter tampering, our association would like to appeal to passengers that on Wednesday, they should not take rickshaws and taxis,” the letter says.
A page on the social networking site, Facebook, has also been created, titled ‘Ban Taxi and Auto Rickshaw in Mumbai, Make it consumer friendly’, the group has 774 members deciding to boycott autos and taxis in the city today in protest of the fare hike.