Mumbai: If everything goes as per the old plan revived by the authorities of the transport department, then soon commuters would be able avail seven-seater, point-to-point, share taxi services in the city. The proposal introduced by the then transport minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil in 2010 went on a backburner due to intra-departmental issues and though it has been revived, deadline for its implementation remains unannounced.
Sources said plans to introduce black and yellow taxis as seven-seaters share taxis was discussed recently and the State Transport Authority (STA) is likely to take the final decision during the next meeting.
Officials claimed that demand for seven-seater share taxis, including the driver, soared after BEST bus, trains, taxis and autos fares were hiked. Sources said that the scheme could be introduced along with the revival of 4,000 dead permits, which shall be up for grabs soon.
"We are yet to study the proposal following which the decision will be taken," S K Sharma, principal secretary for Transport, said.
Maruti Eco and other similar vehicles are likely choices for seven-seater share taxis. At present, such vehicles ply as regular taxis ferrying just five people, including the driver. Currently, seven-seater share taxis are being operated on the Mumbai-Pune route and starts from the airport. The proposal was approved just last year.
But members of taxi unions appeared sceptical about the smooth functioning of the proposal, if introduced. "The cost of maintaining the vehicles will increase. Separate stands will be required to ensure that regular taxis aren't affected," taxi union leader AL Quadros said.
Doubts expressed by taxi unions is a reason the transport department officials would be meeting them and other parties involved for successful implementation of the proposal. There are more than 40,000 taxis in the city that ply on share-a-taxi routes, especially in business areas of Nariman Point, Churchgate and CST.
While plans are on to revive the almost dead share-a-taxi proposal, Regional Transport Offices (RTOs) seem to be ignoring the poor condition of share autos plying in the suburbs. Many of the autos are operated in a poor condition, including defunct or missing tail lights and broken seats. Some of the drivers do not even wear uniforms and often drive rashly.
H Desai, Bandra resident who travels by share autos, said, "Some of the drivers are so reckless that they don't even follow traffic signals. They overtake from wrong side, and the signalling lights don't work."
Even the auto unions claimed that several of the drivers plying commuters on sharing-basis either lack necessary documentation or operate using dead permits. They even overcharge at several locations despite starting from railway stations. It was also observed that on several occasions drivers plied six commuters at one go.