THE MAHARASHTRA transport department has allowed kaali peelis, if air-conditioned, to charge an additional 20 per cent from commuters. In a government regulation released on Friday, the department allowed taxis to charge the same, provided the commuters agree to switching the AC on.
In April, state Transport Minister Diwakar Raote had mentioned that the department is working on a formula to calculate the fare model for cabs with this provision.
“Kaali-peelis can be modified accordingly. The commuters must express their willingness of switching on the AC. If so, a 20% additional cost on the stated bill could be levied,” a senior transport official said.
The official added that kaali peeli drivers and their respective taxi unions must practise the same to attract more commuters. “This would be an advantage as compared to taking a ride in a non-AC kaali peeli in the heat,” he added.
Taxi unions have praised the decision calling it a welcome move. However, they said there should be a fixed meter reading to understand the escalated cost under AC to avoid confusion and differences between commuters and drivers.
“Clashes over the implementation of additional 20% cost of the bill could be avoided if there is a fixed meter reading. We doubt how many kaali peeli drivers would modify their vehicles considering the added cost of installing the same and a fall in our ridership over the years,” K K Tiwari, leader of Swabhiman Taxi Sanghatana said.
The government-appointed Khatua committee will disclose the fare meter scale of kaali peelis, rickshaws and app-based cabs on Monday. At present, a ride in an AC aggregator cab costs less than a kaali peeli ride.