Cabbies need to change along with their cabs
November 22, 2007 4:36 PM
Mumbai: The makeover of the taxi service has started with chauffeurs of hundreds of black-and-yellow taxis queuing up for loans to buy new vehicles. But the brains behind the changes insist that new-age cars are only part of the change. What is equally important is the change that has to come in the mindset of the person at the wheel.
Transport industry officials say changing this mindset of the 70,000 odd cabbies, and marking them more customer-friendly, are proving to be a bigger challenge than getting them to change their old cars.
The modern fleet taxis run by private firms first began showing up on Mumbai streets a year ago with Gold Cab Service first in line. Taxi unions first protested but then finally saw sense and joined the modernization queue. But the new fleet-owners, like Gold Cab and V-Link, soon realized that working to-wards getting license and putting new vehicles on the road was only half the battle won.
The mind-set of cabbies had to be changed and their attitude to-wards customers needed a complete overhaul.
But V Link Taxis Private Limited vice president, training and resources, Ashutosh Atray says that the change in mind-set is taking place.
ADDING COLOUR TO THE ROADS
Private taxi agencies have added a fair sprinkle of colour to the black-and-yellow fleet; the new brands of cars, too, have added variety even when the colours have remained the same.
It has a couple of hundred cabs, all of them Maruti Esteems, on the road. It has plans to add higher-end-cars to the fleet. The agency can be contacted at 4422 4422. the charges are a little steep - the first stage costs Rs 15 and every kilometer thereafter costs Rs13 - but you do not have sweat it out in Mumbai's heat; all cabs are air-conditioned.
This is an all-woman fleet aimed exclusively at women passengers. A few dozen taxis will roll out the services (expected to be launched this month) and the air-conditioned taxis will cost Rs 180 an hour; but they will have to charge standard rates if they want to operate from the city airport.
Gold Cab Services, too, has a few hundred taxis on the road. The cars may be Maruti Esteems or Tata Indigos and, just like V Link, has plans to introduce costlier cars in the fleet. You can call the agency on 32449999 and the fare structure is similar to V-Link's.
These are the air-conditioned counterparts of Mumbai's fleet of ordinary black-and-yellow taxis. You will find Premier Padminis, Tata Indicas and, possibly, Hyundai Santros and some other brands in this fleet. The first stage costs Rs 16.50 and thereafter it costs Rs 15 per kilometer.