Call taxis in the State may soon sport a new colour to distinguish them from tourist cabs.

The State transport department has taken this decision, after complaints from tourist cab operators who said they were losing customers to call taxis.

The department, which will first study taxi systems in other metropolitan cities to see how they function, will then decide on a colour specifically for call taxis.

“For tourists, all hired vehicles look alike with their yellow number plates. Many tend to hire call taxis even to go on long trips, and tourist cabs are left in the lurch. With a separate colour system, it will be easy for tourists to tell one from another,” said an official at the transport department.

The department is first going to study the system in Mumbai, where call taxis have a separate colour. “Once we understand how the system functions, we will decide the colour,” the official said.

Hence the department is planning to study the situation in cities like Mumbai where call taxi cabs have separate colour. Sources said five years ago, the government had taken steps for a colour for call taxi and a separate uniform for its drivers. However, the proposal was dropped.

Tourist cab operators however, say it may not be easy for the department to introduce the colour system, as both call taxis and tourist cabs function under the same permit.

“In Mumbai and Delhi, the permits for each are different,” said a tourist cab operator. Permit conditions for tourist taxis in those cities include not refusing customers, wearing a uniform, maintaining a log book, knowing at least three languages and knowing how to administer first aid.

“In Chennai, only meter taxis have a different permit,” said Lalgudi Srinivasan, joint secretary, Chennai Tourist Taxi Owners Association.