• Wed. Sep 21st, 2022

Passengers demand compliance with rules, App-cab drivers want the state to intervene | Kolkata News

ByElla E. Kidwell

Mar 25, 2022
KOLKATA: It’s been more than three weeks since the state put in place a set of guidelines to regulate taxi operations in the city, but passengers have complained that none of their grievances – cancellations, asking for cash , non-activation of the air conditioning and exorbitant prices – has been fixed.
“Horror stories” continued to flood social media. While on Wednesday an app taxi driver was allegedly assaulted in New Alipore for not turning on the air conditioning, on Thursday two passengers filed complaints against the police for driver misconduct over disputes over air conditioners. Commuters demanded to know if the guidelines would simply be on paper or if there would be arbitration centers. The aggregator’s silence compounded the problems, they argued.
“Until early March it was manageable without air conditioning. But in this heat it has become impossible without air conditioning. However, drivers refuse to turn on the air conditioning, citing commission issues with aggregators. Yet we are charged more than double the fares of yellow taxis,” said Arya Basu, an employee of a pharmaceutical company.Even taxi unions have taken to the streets in the past two days, asking the transport department to intervene and to help the drivers sort out the problems, especially the commission. At a time when diesel prices were over Rs 90 a litre, they had to deal with the anger of the passengers but did not receive their due, the drivers said.
Saikat Hazra, a dentist who travels by taxi to and from his home in New Alipore, said the algorithm determining peak demand should be made public. “No other form of public transport is permitted on this pad,” he said. “It was such a relief when the government issued guidelines but none are being followed. Action must be taken for this violation,” said Ajay Mittal, who previously filed an online petition about cancellations and fare policy. “Even if I want to switch to yellow taxis, they are not readily available,” said Sahidul Islam, a social science professor.
Indranil Banerjee, general secretary of the Online Taxi Operators Guild of West Bengal, said taxi companies were not ready to listen to them or try to solve the problem. “Drivers said that out of the maximum charge of Rs 28 for one km, they wanted a share of Rs 24-25/km to turn on the air conditioning. We do not support air conditioning or cancellation issues. But both sides have to solve the problems together,” he said. Taxi owners claimed that aggregators sometimes took a commission of more than 30%, in violation of the government order. “We want the state to intervene,” said a taxi driver.