The Free Press Journal on Wednesday continued its campaign against taxis refusing short-distance fares. On day 2, reporters tried to hail a ride from CSMT to prominent destinations like the Bombay Hospital, Churchgate, Mantralaya, Nariman Point, and everywhere in between. Out of 104 drivers, 75 of them bluntly refused, with few others having the courtesy to give an excuse of refueling, shift change, etc. Talking about his daily ordeal, Thane resident Madhukar Shinde, 36, complained that almost everyday he arrives 30 minutes late to his workplace as taxis refuse to ferry him to his office at Nariman Point, which is nearly 2.5 km away from CSMT.
With no option left, he is forced to travel by BEST bus. He underlined that no action is being taken against errant drivers despite the office of Mumbai police zone-I a stone’s throw away. Similarly, Viraj Shah, who lives in Lokhandwala and works in Nariman Point, said, “I am really frustrated with these taxi drivers. Especially at night after 9.30 p.m., I don’t have any other option for transportation from Nariman Point to Churchgate. Daily, I have to ask 10–15 taxi drivers to drop me off at Churchgate railway station, after which hardly one of them gets ready. Sometimes, I am forced to walk up to the station and end up reaching home half an hour late.”
Another passenger lamented, “I tried to hail a cab from CSMT to the Free Press House, Nariman Point. But the driver outright denied it, saying he ferries passengers to the Gateway of India on a sharing basis. As I was about to walk away, I saw another passenger approaching him, and he was ready to take him to Kandivali for Rs 850. When asked to go by metre, he started giving lame excuses.” Another driver, who was stationed opposite the Zone 1 police office, said he “wasn’t interested in going to Mantralaya”.
After hours of trying to find a needle in a haystack, taxi driver, Dheeraj Verma, 48, readily agreed to ply from CMST to Churchgate railway station. “Most drivers look for long-distance fares. Very few, like me, are ready to serve the short-distance passengers.” Asserting that he has been driving a taxi in Mumbai for more than two decades, he said, “This is a very old problem but nowadays the number of refusals has increased. Due to some errant drivers, the image of iconic kaali-peelis has been badly affected,” said a courteous Verma.
If taxi drivers refuse to ferry you now, click a photograph of the vehicle’s number plate and mail it to [email protected] You can also call the helpline of Mumbai central regional transport office at 9076201010.