|File picture of an air-conditioned taxi in Calcutta|
Siliguri could get air-conditioned and non-AC taxis with fare meters like Calcutta this Puja. One thousand taxis are expected to run from October in the SMC and SJDA areas. Monday was the first day to collect application forms by those who want to run the cabs. The last date for submitting the forms is July 22 but 680 forms have already been taken
What would the taxis look like?
The transport department notification says “sedans” would be available. It does not specify the car company. The colour of the car will be a combination of navy and sky blue with “No Refusal” written on the front doors. The word “Taxi” for non-AC cars or “AC Taxi” will be pasted on the rear doors. A display board on the top of the car that can be illuminated at night will also specify if the taxi is AC or not. There will be another display board on the left hand side of the windscreen displaying the words “For Hire/Hired”. At the rear of the vehicle, a sign will mention if the car is for the SJDA area or Siliguri subdivision
How much will travelling by taxi cost?
The rates will be the same as in Calcutta. For the first 2km, the charge is Rs 25. The next slab is Rs 12 for every additional kilometre or Rs 2.40 for every 200m. There will be a waiting charge of Rs 1.20 for every 2.12 minutes. In case, the vehicle is carrying luggage weighing more than 20kg, an extra charge of Rs 4 would be added to the bill. For using the AC, the taxis will charge 25 per cent additional charge on the total fare
What you should find in the cab?
A Bengali and an English newspaper, AC in case it is an AC taxi, a music system, electronic meter with a thermal printer
What will be the area of operation?
The Siliguri Municipal Corporation areas and the SJDA area, that is the four blocks of Jalpaiguri – Jalpaiguri Sadar, Rajganj, Mainaguri and Malbazar
Will the taxis have a location indication system?
Yes. Each taxi will have a GPS-based location and navigation system showing the route to be taken by the cab
Does no refusal mean no refusal in real terms?
Owners need to submit an affidavit with the application form, mentioning that the driver would not refuse passengers at any time of day or night and would ply the vehicle during strikes. Such rules are in place in Calcutta, too, but taxi drivers routinely refuse to take passengers. The violation of permit clauses invites a fine of Rs 3,000 if the taxi driver is found guilty of refusing a passenger
Text by Avijit Sinha