Hike in taxi fares on the cards

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NT NETWORK

Panaji

Transport Minister Mauvin Godinho on Wednesday said the state transport authority will soon take a decision to increase the minimum fares of taxis in the wake of high fuel prices.

Addressing a press conference, Godinho said the fixing of digital fare meters on taxis will start in two weeks. The digital fare meters  will be provided free of cost to taxi men.

The government will also incur the maintenance cost for six months.

Cabbies will have to follow High Court’s direction and install the fare meters on their vehicles, he insisted, adding that  before starting the process for fixing the taxi meters the government will hold a meeting with taxi unions informing them about the schedule.

 “We will soon hold a STA meeting to take a decision on increasing  taxi fares, which was last revised in 2013. But before revising the fares, we will hold a meeting with taxi unions

and discuss the fare revision and the installation of fare meters,” he said.

Godinho said the state has been losing on revenue  due to the registration of high-end cars outside the state.

“It has been found that consumers prefer purchase of high-end vehicles in the states with lower taxes, causing a loss of revenue to us. Hence a proposal to reduce tax on luxury vehicles is under consideration,” Godinho said.

The transport department will announce the schedule next week  to roll out the ‘integrated digital meter unit’, which has  an automated vehicle tracking device, fare meter with printer and panic button integrated with overhead display board.

The digital meter units  will be installed in about 26,000 registered taxis to instil confidence  among travellers and prevent arguments over fares.

The cost of the entire unit is Rs 11,234 with free warranty for one  year, and thereafter an amount of Rs 3,415 is   charged under annual maintenance contract.

However, the unit cost will be borne by the government.

Godinho disclosed that he held a meeting with the Chief Secretary, the transport secretary and the tourism secretary on directing  Goa Miles to relinquish the counter at the Dabolim airport to the transport department.

“We have agreed and accepted the demand of the taxi union that a taxi aggregator can’t solicit customers at the airport. This is a sympathetic government and has always helped the taxi business in the state. However, the demand for shutting down the Goa Miles operation is not acceptable. They (private taxi drivers)  can’t dictate terms to us. It would be better if these taxi unions representing drivers come together and start their own app-based cab aggregator,” the minister maintained.

Godinho also said  the Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited will hire all private buses operating on Ponda to Panaji and Canacona to Margao routes to streamline the public transport system.

“The private bus owners unions have already in principle agreed to this proposal. We are planning to implement it. We had a long negotiation for eight months,” he said, adding that  private bus owners will be paid rent as per the distance.