Under an initiative to “revise the perception” of kaali-peeli drivers and increase ridership, the city’s taxi cab union plans to give behavioural and trade lessons to taxi drivers.
If it is successful, very soon, kaali-peeli drivers, who are perceived to be “impolite” and have a reputation for refusing a booking if not profitable for them, may welcome your call and not argue over a return of change.
The Jai Bhagwan Taxi Rickshaw Sanghatana plans to arrange for voluntary lessons for taxi drivers.
A three-member committee, including retired officials each from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) and traffic police along with a social worker, will be formed to impart the lessons.
“The committee will impart lessons on driving and soft skills among taxi drivers. While the RTO officer will impart lessons on driving to the cab drivers, the traffic cop may help them understand the importance of following traffic rules. Also, lessons on how to behave and communicate with commuters will be given by the social activist,” said Bala Sanep, leader of Jai Bhagwan taxi union.
“Very often, cab drivers are called ‘rash and impolite’ individuals who do not understand commuters’ needs. Through this training, we aim to revise this notion and instead make a kaali-peeli ride friendly and enjoyable,” said Sanep.
Among its measures to increase ridership, cab drivers had called for a 20 per cent discount to be given to commuters booking cabs via 9211 CABS mobile application in certain suburban sections of Greater Mumbai.
This comes after taxi and rickshaw unions had come down heavily on app-based taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber for impacting their business. They had threatened a strike if the government did not regulate their services.
“We follow the rules and fare meters as ordered by the state transport authorities and still face the brunt of losses. Our daily earnings have reduced by at least 70 to 80 per cent after cool cabs have dominated the market. We want to revive taxis as the lifeline of public transport in the city,” said Baba Sanep, a member of Jai Bhagwan union.
Transport activists said this could be a positive move in the direction of reviving kaali-peelis in the city.
“Behavioural lessons do form an integral part of the conduct of a cab driver and an initiative in this regard is surely appreciated. What I also feel is taxi drivers must update themselves with modern technology on how to use online maps and other new developments,” said Ashok Datar, transport expert.
The number of kaali-peelis in the city have come down from 55,000 to at least 40,000 in the last decade.
Restrictions on operation of cool cabs to refuel the business of kaali-peelis has been a constant demand.