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Radio taxis to get national permit

By Sujay Mehdudia

NEW DELHI, MARCH 29. Shaken by the rising incidents of harassment and killings of foreign and domestic tourists, the Delhi Government has decided to promote the concept of radio taxi service in a big way, allowing them national permit and unrestricted fleet. In addition, the Delhi Tourism and Transportation Corporation (DTTDC) would also run regular luxury air-conditioned coach services from the domestic as well as the international airport shortly.

In fact, the Government would soon come out with a comprehensive radio taxi policy to promote this concept of radio communication while travelling. It is expected that nearly 1,000 new radio taxis would hit the Delhi roads by the end of this year. It is learnt that the new policy would also lift the restriction on the number of taxis one could operate under the scheme and aims at having a fleet of 5,000 modern radio equipped taxis in the next few years. At present, three companies are operating radio taxis with a total fleet of 136 vehicles. Under the new regime, the Government has allowed the radio taxi operating companies to have advertisements on top of their vehicles. It has also agreed to give them all India permits, thereby allowing them to operate in the National Capital Region (NCR) townships.

However, the Government has not agreed to a fare increase and has capped the fare at Rs. 15 per km. These taxis will have all the latest facilities including air-conditioning, provision of mineral water, newspapers and other such passenger facilities. An outstanding feature of this new concept would be that these taxi drivers would be reporting to the control room their movement throughout the city in order to ensure that tourists are not fleeced or taken to wrong destinations. In fact, it has also been decided that the present lot of outdated and dilapidated fleet of taxis at the airport would be shunted out and replaced with modern radio taxis by the end of this year. After the intervention by the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor, Vijai Kapoor, the Airports Authority of India has agreed to give the DTTDC and the Transport Department booths at the two airports. Bookings will be made for the radio taxis and even hotels at these booths in order to eliminate the intervention of touts and those taxi drivers who often fleece tourists by taking them either to wrong destinations or to wrong people. Parking for the radio taxis has been provided at the nearby Coffee Home run by the DTTDC.

Apart from this, the DTTDC would also run three air-conditioned luxury coaches from the airport to its Baba Kharak Singh Marg office round the clock. The purpose of bringing tourists to this office is that from there they could be directed to their respective destinations and those who want hotel accommodation could be guided accordingly. A provision would also be made to have radio taxis available at these destinations in order to provide the best facilities to these tourists. In fact, a provision is also being made by the Transport Department to ensure that the present yellow and black taxis also are equipped with radios in order to keep a track on their movement. However, this category of taxis would not be allowed to hike their fare. In fact, the stress of the Delhi Government and the new policy is on corporatisation of the public transport in order to bring about a sense of responsibility and qualitative improvement in the service for foreign tourists as well as local commuters.

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