'Let us drive you home on New Year's Eve'

Published: 25 December, 2013 06:24 IST | Shashank Rao |

Keeping in mind citizens' safety and comfort, and the big bucks they fetch on Dec 31 as fares, taxi & auto rickshaw drivers ask them to relinquish steering wheels for the night

For Mumbaikars who would ring in the New Year at a bash out of the home, this will be a rather desired convenience. There will be more taxis and auto rickshaws on road compared to regular evenings. December 31 being a busy evening for cabbies and auto drivers, the unions will tell their members to ensure that they remain easily available to ferry commuters. “The drivers would mostly park near areas where there are plenty of restaurants, pubs and bars,” said A L Quadros, president of Mumbai Taximen’s Union.

Eighty per cent of the black-and-yellow taxis in the city are likely to ply on the intervening night of December 31-January 1. File pic

Normally, only 30 per cent of the 42,000 taxis ply during night, but on New Year’s Eve, a good 80 per cent of the black-and-yellow taxi fleet is likely to be in business. Even auto rickshaws will be out in full strength. “There will be tremendous traffic on New Year’s Eve, and we expect at least 70 per cent of the autos in the city to be on the road during night,” said Shashank Rao, from the Mumbai Auto Rickshawmen’s Union. There are around 1.04 lakh rickshaws plying in eastern and western suburbs. Most of these autos will ply at Bandra, Juhu, Versova and other areas in western Mumbai, buzzing with people.

Other cab fleets do not want to miss out on the chunk of fare the day would generate either. “We have informed all our drivers to ply that (December 31) night, since it would get them business. Moreover, people can call up our call centres or hail an empty cab as well,” said Prasenjeet Bagchi, chief marketing officer, TAB Cabs. Many restaurants, lounges and pubs with permission to sell liquor normally have tie-ups with cab companies, or arrange for vehicles to drop patrons to their destination, in a bid to check drink-driving and possible mishaps.

Cops to comb streets
Last night, the Mumbai traffic police began its week-long drive to crack down on drink-driving, which will last up till January 1. There would be over 2,500 traffic cops in the city and its suburbs to check the offence, which surges at the festive year-end. “We will begin with important locations where chances of speeding are more,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Suburbs) P Dighavkar, Mumbai Traffic Police.

The traffic police have already recorded nearly 15,000 drink-driving cases this year till mid-December. Motorcyclists form at least 65 per cent of the total number of offenders. Some of the most likely places where the drive will take place are the Eastern and Western Express Highways, the Eastern Freeway, Bandra, Juhu, Versova, Borivli, Gorai, Churchgate, Colaba and Marine Drive.

Peg it down
The blood-alcohol content (BAC) limit is fixed at 30 mg per 100 ml of blood. Any driver whose BAC level is found to be higher than this will be booked.

Party till 5 am on New Year’s Eve
Here is some good news for the party owls. On the eve of New Year, the government has allowed restaurants, pubs and bars to remain open till 5 am. In a recent circular issued to police stations in the city, the police commissioner has asked local police to maintain strict vigil on all such installations and allow them to remain open till 5 am. In return, owners of hotels or restaurants have to pay Rs 250 for every hour the venue remains open after midnight, which is the deadline for these establishments on regular days.

Drink-driving cases in last 4 yrs
2010: 16,290
2011: 16,324
2012: 14,133
2013 (till mid-Dec): 14,436

Vehicle-wise cases in 2013
Two-wheelers: 9,371
Four-wheelers: 4,289 

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