Taxi drivers protest at Tardeo RTO demanding BEST to stop stealing its customers

Taxi drivers protest at Tardeo RTO demanding BEST to stop stealing its customers

Taxi drivers in the city including “kaali peeli” drivers staged a protest inside the Tardeo RTO (Regional Transport Office) compound. The drivers are protesting the loss of income with commuters migrating to buses and other means of public transport. The addition of BEST’s mini-AC buses in the city has particularly frustrated the drivers and are hence protesting the decision to add more buses.

The protestors performed a “chakka jam” inside the RTO compound by blocking their vehicles in the vicinity, thus causing trouble to the RTO’s standard operations. Following these protests, a delegation from the MNS union met with Transport Commissioner Shekhar Channe. The union members demanded the authorities set up an inquiry into the addition of new bus stands close to the shared taxi stands outside railway stations. 

“We are agitated and want to know how the buses get permission to operate close to our taxi stands. They are snatching away our customers by using microphones and by shouting that the tickets are affordable. It has caused us a major setback and several cabbies have incurred huge losses,” one of the taxi drivers said.

Meanwhile, an RTO official said, “The customer should have the choice to opt for bus, taxi or auto outside railway stations." This is a logic that not many can argue with. 

A senior transport official who chose to remain anonymous claimed that times have certainly changed now. “In the past, the BEST would come to us with complaints to drive away from the taxis from near bus stops, and now the cabbies want us to drive away the buses,” he said.

Commuters and citizens of Mumbai believe that share taxis are not without their blame. With some taxi drivers refusing trips or even charging an extra fee to desperate and out of time passengers, more commuters are flocking to transparent forms of public transport such as buses and/or metros. 

The same can be said about autorickshaws in the city with many refusing to take long-distance trips. Last year, it was found that autorickshaw fares were doubled following the BEST bus strike. In August 2019, the Mumbai RTO cancelled more than 900 licenses of autorickshaw drivers for refusing trips to passengers.