Red tape be­hind rise of auto mafia

Three of the busiest train sta­tions in the sub­urbs — LTT, Ban­dra and Borivli — have vir­tu­ally no pre­paid sys­tem al­legedly due to lack of con­trac­tors

Mid Day - - News - FAIZAN KHAN, SU­RAJ OJHA AND SAMIULLAH KHAN [email protected]

WITH pre-paid taxi coun­ters and stands ei­ther out of op­er­a­tion or miss­ing al­to­gether at ma­jor rail­way ter­mi­nuses in the city’s sub­urbs , there’s noth­ing to stop auto and taxi driv­ers from tak­ing com­muters for a ride. mid-day found this to be the case par­tic­u­larly at Lok­manya Tilak Ter­mi­nus (LTT), Ban­dra Ter­mi­nus and Borivli sta­tion — all no­to­ri­ous for the auto and taxi mafia fleec­ing pas­sen­gers.

WHILE there is a pre-paid taxi stand at Ban­dra Ter­mi­nus, mid-day dis­cov­ered it has been shut for the last six months, af­ter the con­trac­tor re­fused to re­new the ser­vices. This, al­legedly, is also due to pres­sure from the auto and taxi mafia.

Ac­cord­ing to mem­bers of the taxi union, the pre­paid taxi ser­vice shut down be­cause many pas­sen­gers were un­aware of the fa­cil­ity, and in­stead chose to call for an Ola or Uber to save money. But these cabs, too, are no longer an op­tion be­cause of strong op­po­si­tion from the taxi unions. Due to traf­fic jams and al­ter­ca­tions with an­gry unions, Ola and Uber cabs can some­times also take a long time to ar­rive at the sta­tion. As a re­sult, many pas­sen­gers give in to what­ever ex­or­bi­tant de­mands the lo­cal taxi­men and auto driv­ers make.

Ban­dra ter­mi­nus also has spe­cific lanes where au­tos and kaali-peelis are sup­posed to wait for pas­sen­gers, but the driv­ers have aban­doned this space. In­stead, they crowd right at the sta­tion’s exit, or even on the plat­forms, wait­ing to bom­bard un­sus­pect­ing trav­ellers as soon as they alight from trains. Many of these cab­bies and au­towal­lahs don’t bother to

wear their uni­form ei­ther, and of­ten charge dou­ble or more than the reg­u­lar tar­iff. mid-day’s re­porter tried to no­tify the au­thor­i­ties of the is­sue, but found no one at the sta­tion­mas­ter’s of­fice.

Mean­while, Ra­makant Pandey, pres­i­dent of the Cha­lak Malak Sena at Ban­dra East said, “The pre­paid taxi con­trac­tor stopped func­tion­ing here at Ban­dra ter­mi­nus due heavy losses. Even our busi­ness has gone down due to pri­vate cabs [like Ola, Uber]. De­spite this, we have in­structed our union mem­bers to fol­low the tar­iff rules.”

PICS/SHADAB KHAN

While au­tos and taxis that refuse pas­sen­gers line up right out­side the sta­tion.

The pre­paid taxi booth out­side Ban­dra Ter­mi­nus is non-op­er­a­tional...

PICS/SHADAB KHAN

Taxis and au­tos even park il­le­gally on the Ban­dra Ter­mi­nus fly­over, wait­ing for pas­sen­gers.

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