There’s a big ouch coming your way and it’s not just from the imminent two-dose vaccine jab, yet. Starting March 1, you will have to set aside a considerable chunk of your income to budget for travel by autorickshaw or taxi. The state government has cleared a fare hike for autorickshaws and taxis that will come into effect from this date, even as the unions are unsure about its impact. The minimum fare for autorickshaws will be Rs 21 while it will go up to Rs 25 for the black-and-yellow taxis from next month. As if this were not enough, the fare increment per kilometre too has been spiked by over Rs 2 for both autos and taxis, which will make it an expensive ride for the public.
Sources said that the last fare hike was in June 2015. The six-year delay in revising fares has now translated into this sudden surge in fares. On February 22, Maharashtra Transport Minister Anil Parab confirmed the hike, saying, “The fare hike will be in place from March 1. From this day, autos and taxis will have three months to recalibrate their e-meters.” On Monday, after the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA) approved the fare hike, Parab made the announcement.
The reason this fare hike will bleed the public is not just that the base fares have increased by Rs 3, but also the consecutive per kilometre fare, which is usually charged after the first 1.5kms, too has gone up substantially. For instance, the kaali-peeli taxis will charge Rs 2.09 more per kilometre while autorickshaws will charge Rs 2.01 more per kilometre.
The Union members claim that this is anywhere between 14-16 per cent more for taxis and autos respectively (check box). Sources said that this hike in per kilometre fare by over Rs 2 too has happened after years now. This would mean that for every kilometre one travels beyond the minimum 1.5kms, the fare will jump by more than Rs 2.
“Over the last few months, CNG prices have increased by Rs 9. As per our calculation, the hike should have been Rs 27, but then in the current situation, we don’t know how many people will travel in taxis, as 70 per cent of our users are officegoers and businessmen,” said A L Quadros, senior taxi union leader. There are close to 42,000 taxis in Mumbai.
The unions expect this hike to simply offset the losses that happened during Covid lockdown. With Covid-19 cases resurfacing, the union members claim that there is every chance that people might avoid taking these modes of transport.
“Our demand to provide a monthly remuneration of Rs 10,000 to auto drivers and their families struggling in this pandemic, and a loan waiver on vehicles needs to be considered,” said Shashank Sharad Rao, Mumbai Rickshawmen's Union.
There are 2.20 lakh autos in Mumbai and in recent times, the struggle to find fares has gone up. In fact, share-autos and share-taxis have reduced fares to attract passengers.
“People are already losing their jobs, salaries are getting cut. This fare hike will only make things difficult for people to travel and burden will increase on local trains and buses,” said Subhash Gupta, president, Rail Yatri Sangh.
Base fare (old): Rs 22
New: Rs 25
Per km (old): Rs 14.84
New: Rs 16.93
Base fare (old): Rs 18
New: Rs 21
Per km (old): Rs12.19
New: Rs 14.20