Small cabs not suitable for Mumbai now, says state’s think tank director

Hindustan Times, June 23, 2018

Smaller cabs with an engine capacity of 600cc may be better and more comfortable than autorickshaws, but should not be introduced in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), according to BC Khatua, the director of Mumbai Transformation Support Unit (MTSU), the state’s think tank.

Khatua, a former IAS officer, previously headed a panel that reviewed a fare-revision formula for conventional taxis and autos and recommended a price band for app-based taxis.

Khatua, speaking at a roundtable conference organised by Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS), an international NGO, on the topic “Regulating innovation in urban mobility in India” in Mumbai on Friday, said 600cc cabs can be “cautiously” introduced after three to four years in the MMR, after their impact analysis in other parts of the state.

In its report submitted to the state government in October 2017, a four-member panel headed by Khatua suggested introducing a new class of taxis having an engine capacity between 600cc and 980cc in cities with a population of over a million people. The report is under consideration by the state government.

Khatua said Mumbai already has conventional taxis and autorickshaws, and the introduction of a new class of cabs having a different fare structure will result in conflict.

At the same time, he said smaller cars provide a better, comfortable ride as compared to an autorickshaw with no air-conditioning.

Currently, the MMR has around 50,000 black-and-yellow cabs, along with 3.5 lakh autorickshaws.

Khatua said while Mumbai’s road network increased by 5%, the number of vehicles went up by 500%. “We should support the public transport followed by IPT (Intermediate Public Transport like taxis and autorickshaws). IPT supports public transport by providing last-mile connectivity, and therefore they are complementary to each other,” he said.

CUTS International also released its study on the new Maharashtra city taxi rules (made last year) which if implemented would push the per-day cost for consumers up by 40% and that of taxi drivers up by 93%.

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