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
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.”
While autos and taxis that refuse passengers line up right outside the station.
The prepaid taxi booth outside Bandra Terminus is non-operational...
Taxis and autos even park illegally on the Bandra Terminus flyover, waiting for passengers.