Business Situation – Meter Jammed

When you take a taxi or rickshaw to commute to the railway station or to work these days, the first thing that you probably look to find in your wallet to pay the cabbie or rickshawala is some loose change. With effect from June 23, all rickshaw and taxi fares in the city have been increased. Now the minimum fare for rickshaws has increased by Rs. 2 i.e. from Rs. 9 to Rs.11 and taxi fare from Rs. 14 to Rs. 16.

Taxi and rickshaw drivers blame the soaring prices of CNG for the hike. However, little do they sympathize with the passengers who helplessly have to commute by a taxi or a rickshaw. For every subsequent increase in kilometer a passenger shells out Rs.2 more. It may sound rosy to the rickshaw and taxi driver but it definitely is not a pocket friendly move for the commuter. Besides the increase in prices, the commuter still has to put up with rude behavior and refusal to ply to the area the commuter wishes to travel to. This has always been a major concern and cause of worry to the commuter, but little is done by the union to solve this issue that the masses collectively face.

Agitated commuters recently joined forces to start a meter jam where commuters who faced refusal by a taxi or rickshaw driver, refused to use taxis or rickshaws for one whole day and instead opted to use the public transport facilities. The meter jam as a whole was a very successful initiative and saw a drop in the number of people who chose not to travel by rickshaws and taxis. Taxis and auto rickshaw unions choose to go on indefinite strikes when they feel like, increase basic fares and yet continue to remain arrogant with the same masses that help them earn their daily bread.

The indefinite strikes that are called by the taxi and rickshaw unions cause havoc and sometimes even turn violent. It cripples the transport system entirely. But they refuse to budge till at least part of their demand is fulfilled. Food prices is also on the rise and with rickshaw fares increasing, a commuter has to also now put up with walking back home from the market, when just taking a rickshaw seemed to be an easier solution.

The increase in fares is also a lesson to the masses. The commuter of today is lazy and chooses the comfort of a taxi or rickshaw to drive him back home from work over the bumpy bus or train rides. With the increase in fares the number of people traveling by public transport like buses and trains even for short distances has increased. This has all lead to public transport facilities also increasing the number of schemes offered and facilities provided to cater to the changing commuter set.

I don’t entirely support the change in the fare prices but I don’t dismiss it as a wrong move as well. This considering the fact that most rickshaw drivers come from a poor background and soaring prices of CNG is not really affordable. It also means that it’s high time the lazy population of Mumbai starts respecting the facilities provided by the public transport sector and exploit it to the fullest. A simple plea to all the auto and taxi drivers: You must have heard the phrase, Chalti ka Naam Zindagi, so please I guess its time you learn to live in harmony with your passengers. They are in fact doing a favor on you. And the last thing a passenger wants when he’s had a very tiring day is a rude rickshaw driver. It’s time we live in harmony and live abiding each others rules.

Giselle Mendes

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