Friday, May 31, 2013

FARE WELL to Fiat taxi fleet ; other taxis of Bombay1700 ONWARDS

An august farewell for iconic Bombay cab


An august farewell for iconic Bombay cab


Double whammy for Fiat cabs- maximum age of taxis reduced from 25 years to 20 and deadline for scrapping ageing taxis brought forward by five years to July 31

The Fiat taxis - as much a sign of Mumbai's history as its decaying infrastructure - are set to go off the city's roads by August this year.

A government resolution (GR) issued on Tuesday has reduced the maximum number of years a taxi can run on Mumbai roads from 25 years to 20. Since a large part of the city's 10,000-odd Fiat taxi fleet - also called Premier Padminis -- falls in this age bracket and the GR mandates that they be taken out of service before July 31, the days of the dove-tailed yellow-tops are numbered.

The GR, however, has angered taxi unions as it, in just one stroke, shaves off five years from the earlier deadline - 2018 -- for getting rid of ageing taxis.

The same GR has also fixed the maximum age of autos at 16, which means 8,000 of these three-wheelers could be headed for the scrap yard or Mumbai's fringe towns where vigilance is lax.

Transport Commissioner V N More said the move is aimed at bringing in a younger fleet of cabs for commuters. "We completed the due process of sending the relevant papers to the chief minister's office on May 24.

The government acted promptly and issued the GR," he said.

Mumbai Taximen's Union chief A L Quadros, however, described the new GR as "needless pressure" on taximen, who are anyway struggling to cope with commuters' preference for newer, more modern taxis. "Why should the government do this when 1600 Premier Padmini taxis were voluntarily scrapped between January and May this year," he asked.

According to RTO records, the Premier Padmini is based on the long-obsolete Italian Fiat 1100D model that has been relegated to the history books in Italy.

Production of the 900 kg Padmini began in 1964 under a Fiat license, and only in 1973 were the vehicles, being built on the Premier Automobiles Limited production lines at Kurla, given the name Padmini.

While the production of Padminis -- named after a 14th century Rajput princess -- was scaled down drastically, it was stopped only in 2008.

"Many cabbies have replaced their cars with newer models despite some of them having been purchased as late as 2005-06. Hence, the number of Padminis taxis in Mumbai today is only around 10,000," he said.

More said with the Hakim Committee recommendations for fare hike came the demand for better taxis. "Since the Hakim Committee plan for fare hike has been implemented, it would have been unfair to wait till 2018 for taxis' upgrade," he added.

The hike implemented in October last year had raised fares by up to 40 per cent and it only aggravated commuters' anger over rickety, smelly Padmini taxis. "This is a good move by the government. None of these taxis are in good shape and they give a poor impression of the city. Many do not even have cabin lights," Nitin Dossa of the Western India Automobile Association said.

While Quadros does not have figures of how many Padmini taxis will remain on Mumbai roads beyond the July 31 deadline, he reckons there will be very few left. "That really will be sad because these taxis were solid, durable, and required little maintenance unlike the lighter, modern cars of today," he said


Taxi Driver 1954 



The Apollo Bunder, Bombay

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