Mumbai commuters relieved as fare hike of taxis, autorickshaws postponed; Union seeks government aid

Commuters can heave a sigh of relief as the decision to increase fares of taxis and autorickshaws which was expected to be announced on Tuesday has been postponed by the authorities.

The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA), in its meeting held on Tuesday, postponed the decision which was expected to increase the taxi and autorickshaw fares by ₹3 and ₹2, respectively.

“We felt that it was not an opportune time to raise the fares,” said an MMRTA official on condition of anonymity.

There are indications that the fare for taxis will increase to ₹25 from the current ₹22, while rickshaws will see a hike to ₹20 from the current ₹18.

Commuters expressed happiness over this move. “People are inconvenienced by the Covid-19 pandemic and any fare rise in the current scenario will hit them badly. It’s good that MMRTA officials took note of this,” said social activist Gaurang Damani.

AL Quadros, leader of the city’s largest taximen’s union – Mumbai Taximen’s Union – has expressed disappointment over this postponement. “Taxi drivers are suffering as there has been no fare hike in the last five years, while the corresponding costs like CNG (compressed natural gas) prices and vehicle maintenance have increased substantially,” he said.

Another drivers’ association, Shiv Vahutak Sanghatana chief Sharif Deshmukh said that drivers suffered great hardships during the lockdown. “All drivers are in loss and cannot sustain themselves. A major portion of their income goes on paying off their loans,” said Deshmukh.

However, Mumbai Autorickshaw Union leader Shashank Rao said that instead of a fare hike, a financial package needs to be given to the drivers. “This is not the right time to burden the commuters. Instead, the government should offer financial help to the drivers and waive off their loans,” he said.

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