When the state transport secretary GS Gill was taken for a ride by a cabbie in Mumbai, all hell broke loose. But the result is that rides in Mumbai cabs are going to be easier on the pocket as electronic meters will be installed. Electronic meters are not only difficult to tamper with, they will come with a printed handout which will make it easier for customers to prove that he/she has been cheated. In fact a cabbie taking an unusually long route from point to point will also be caught. This itself should act as a deterrent.

Fines for rigged meters will also rise. We hope. Because cabbies are not too happy with the move as they feel that not only are electronic meters expensive, they will cost more to repair. In any case taxi unions are already very unhappy… taxi fares have been reduced by 50 paise per km, because cabs have switched to CNG. And fines for faulty meters now stand at anywhere between Rs 500 to Rs 1500/-

Unfortunately the reduction in fares as well as the increase in fines is going to be challenged in court by the taxi union. Reduced fares or not, the union hasn’t accepted it, and consumers have to pay the original fare.

We have to admit that though Mumbai cabs are said to be the safest in the world – when it comes meter tampering, they don’t score very well.

Actually, the move to improve the cabbie system in Mumbai is not a new one. Upgradation of the rickety black and yellow cabs is very much in keeping with the state government’s policy for improving the city of Mumbai. In fact recently the chief minister inaugurated a modern fleet of GPS-based technology taxi services, with the flag off fare of Rs 15. Six months ago, a similar service was introduced.

One can only hope that the taxi union’s plans to scuttle the government’s move to reduce fares does not succeed. Well, at least the union has not opposed electronic meters, and once they are installed, Mumbai will be safer from cheating cabbies. If there are complaints one can complain online at trafficpolicemumbai.org

Finally, it took the state transport secretary to suffer at the hands of a cheating cabbie for all this to happen. While electronic meters were to be installed on all new cabs anyway, now they will have to be installed on all cabs.🙂