Long-distance train terminals are restart point for black and yellow cabs; union seeks pre-paid services
With the first set of passenger trains leaving and arriving in the city after a hiatus of nearly two months, several black and yellow taxis got their first real business since the lockdown was imposed.
A L Quadros, who heads the Mumbai’s Taximen’s Union, said it was hard to pinpoint exactly how many may have come out on the road but estimated around 3,000 taxis to have run through the day.
“The numbers will increase in the coming days as the passenger demand increases and trains arrive more regularly. We are also in talks with the authorities to see if we can start pre-paid services wherever possible,” he said.
On Monday, the Railways started operating 100 pairs of trains across the country for which tickets could be reserved.
The first train departed at 12.30 a.m. from Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT) for Varanasi.
According to senior railway officials, all the trains were fully booked and there was additional staff deployed to ensure that physical distancing and other health protocols were maintained at stations like CSMT, Mumbai Central, Bandra Terminus, and Lokmanya Tilak Terminus.
Mr. Quadros said this was a start and more taxis would join as the lockdown restrictions eased, but most of the taxi drivers who had left the city over the past two months would not return any time soon. “There is a chance that the city might face a shortage of taxis as many drivers, some along with their vehicles, have gone to their home towns. They won’t return for at least two to three months,” he said.
Autorickshaws are set to start on June 5 for essential services, with the State mandating only two passengers per vehicle. Shashank Rao, leader of the Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Men’s Union, said the start of trains will at least help ensure that rickshaw drivers get business every day.
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