If taxi drivers are to be believed, the lack of patronage for pre-paid Ambassador cabs at Chennai airport stems from a peculiar reason – their colour.
Owners and drivers of such vehicles have appealed to the Airports Authority of India and the State government to permit them to change the colour of the cars from predominantly black to yellow.
There are 304 pre-paid taxis, nearly all of them Ambassador cars. As per existing rules, except for the roof which is to be yellow, the rest of the taxi has to be painted black.
However, drivers say that this has resulted in a loss of business for them as travellers associate the colour black with “bad elements”. Appealing to government agencies to allow them to change with the times, the Chennai Airport Pre-Paid Taxi Owner – Driver Association has written to the AAI, Chennai and the State Transport Department asking for a colour change.
Members of the association said that pre-paid cabs offer very low fares as compared to private and call taxi services. They charge a flat rate of Rs. 230 for a minimum of 10 km and Rs. 10 per every additional km.
The drivers said that the current rate was fixed more than a decade ago and had not been revised despite increases in the price of fuel and spare parts and maintenance expenses. However, despite these economical rates, passengers preferred other vehicles due to these pre-existing notions, they said.
According to them, if taxis were allowed to sport a yellow colour with black borders on its sides, passengers would be able to identify them easily.
They said the change in colour would be a win-win situation for all concerned.
Passengers would be able to make better use of a hassle-free mode of transport and cab drivers would get more trips which have become necessary considering that the amount of money they make from each trip is quite less.
Passengers at the Chennai Airport were, by and large, supportive of the move.
Suhas Soudhi, who arrived from Pune on Thursday morning, said the pre-paid mode of transport eliminated hassles and bargaining and was especially relevant in a city like Chennai where autorickshaw fares were so high.
S. Krishen, another passenger, also suggested that brighter colours would help identify cars easily and make travel comfortable since black cars are hotter to travel in.
There were also those who were all for the charm that the ‘good old’ Ambassador retained despite the array of new models in the market.