Cabbies vex ‘app’less commuters

PANAJI: Plagued with the lack of an efficient public transportation system in the state, citizens have always been at the mercy of tourist taxis to commute during the wee hours. This resource, however, has proven to be more of a bane for them. The main bone of contention is the lack of rate cards and the absence of meters, which implies that distances covered and fares charged can’t be registered.

This tends to give taxi operators a free hand to charge exorbitant fares, which, very often, goes unreported to the state department of transport.

With non-availability of transport at night, a number of professionals working late hours are left with no option but depend on tourist taxis.

Former event manager, Sharlene Pinto, shared her travails during her stint at an events company. “When we would hire manpower to help out at EDM festivals, we’d have to arrange transport for them to travel back home. This is mainly because after 10pm, there is absolutely no public transport service in Goa. Shuttling clients and performing artistes around would also become expensive owing to tourist taxis overcharging us. As a result, we had to purchase our own vehicles to transport people around,” she rued
The extortionist attitude of these operators also discourages students studying outside Goa to rent cabs. “Since most cabbies overcharge, I have to depend on family and friends for a pick-up from or a drop to the airport. This becomes a matter of serious inconvenience for those of us who travel often,” Uma Kodali Nutulapati, a student, said.

 A frequent traveller to Mumbai and Bengaluru, South Goa-based lawyer Amey Hegde Desai, opined that it’s high time Goa implemented the taxi app services that are running successfully in several Indian cities.
“Goa requires a 24-hour transport service owing to its nightlife and flourishing tourism. We need multinationals like Ola and Uber to invest in the state so that people can have a safe mode of transport at their disposal, without the fear of being cheated. The taxi stakeholders in the state need to be educated on this. The government needs to think beyond its taxi vote bank and cater to the needs of the common man in Goa,” Dessai said.
Sharing his thoughts on the issue, a prominent transport official told TOI, “The problem lies in the taxi operators’ lack of understanding how these multinationals work. They’ve developed a misconception that Ola/Uber will put them out of business and even increase the density of taxis in the state, which is not the case.”
When asked about problems regarding overcharging and bad behaviour, the official said, “There are not many who come forward to complain about such operators. When there is a criminal case registered, the police forwards us a report, following which we can act against the driver concerned.”