Madurai

It is hassle-free, affordable and safe too

These call taxis can be booked at a booth at Madurai railway station. Photo: G. Moorthy

These call taxis can be booked at a booth at Madurai railway station. Photo: G. Moorthy   | Photo Credit: G_Moorthy

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Call taxi service in Madurai has come as a godsend for the harried lot in the city

“Last week, I was alone at home as my grandmother was hospitalised. Suddenly, there was a call at 11 p.m. from the hospital. The doctor informed me that she was critical. I had to rush. I booked a call taxi. The driver dropped me at the hospital at that odd hour.”

This was the experience of a 19-year-old girl, who lives in an extension colony in the city, with call taxi. Today, call taxi service has come as a boon to many people. The myth that car travel is expensive is no more there. Public, particularly womenfolk, feel comfortable travelling in a call taxi than an auto rickshaw or other mode of transport.

A 55-year-old woman Mythili, who lives alone in her home in Gomathipuram, says that after taking voluntary retirement from service her only outing is to the Meenakshi Temple twice a week. “Instead of driving my car, I prefer to go by call taxi. It is hassle-free. I don’t have to worry about parking. It is safe to travel by a four-wheeler.”

For college-going girl students, call taxi pool is affordable and safe too. “Instead of using public transport, where we may have to encounter trouble from eve-teasers, among other nuisances, call taxi is safer and faster. Yes, it is marginally higher than bus fare,” they say.

Travel Club president Singaram Sundar says that call taxi service is welcome in a tier-II city like Madurai. More people are using the service. Though the fare is slightly higher than autorickshaws, it is advantageous in many ways.

However, N. Sriram, also from Travel Club, has a different view. At a time when there are reports of women being harassed by some call taxi drivers in metros like Delhi and Bengaluru, there is no complaint in Madurai.

But, in the absence of proper legislation, not many call taxis have registered their service. As a result, there is no data on how many operators are there in the city. Drivers are not trained to behave well with passengers. Driving is also by and large rough and shoddy, he points out. The police and transport department officials have to provide awareness-cum-training to drivers and operators, he suggests.

KR. Gnanasambandan, an industrialist, feels that negotiating four Masi or Veli streets in one’s own car is a Herculean task.

Instead, hiring a call taxi and getting dropped at the designated spot is convenient. Four persons travelling in a car brings down the cost, he says.

Mr. Sundar wants tourist taxi operators to adapt to changing trends. When the business model has changed, traditional taxi operators should design new methods to compete with call taxis.

Police officers said that so far there have been no complaints from users regarding insecurity or collection of excess fares by the drivers.

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Printable version | Jan 22, 2020 4:38:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/it-is-hasslefree-affordable-and-safe-too/article6692770.ece

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