11 May 2022  |   06:03am IST

The taxi fare is still not fair

The saga of taxi meters and online aggregator taxi services in Goa does not seem to be coming to an end anytime soon.

There have been repeated calls from the tourism stakeholders that the State must permit the aggregator taxi services, and with the exception of one such local firm in Goa, the other national and international operators have not been allowed to introduce their services in the State, which has now led to a renewed call from the Travel and Tourism Association of Goa president that the government must allow such operators in the State to facilitate travel by tourists and also locals. There can be no faulting this reasoning, as locals too face problems when wanting to use taxi services in the State.

The Travel and Tourism Association president didn’t stop there, but went on to say that action should be taken against those taxis in Goa that have installed the digital fare meters but are not using it. It has been another long struggle in Goa to get the taxi operators to install the taxi meters and it required the directions of the courts to make it happen, penalties by the government on those not installing them for the taxi operators in batches to line up for the meters, which have been subsidised by the government. The poser that now arises is what after the installation? Have these digital fare meters brought about a change in the fares that are charged by the taxi operators?

What can be inferred from the statement of the travel and tourism association chief is that while the mandated fare meters have been installed by the taxi operators, there are among them those who choose not to use them. Installing and then not utilising them does not serve the purpose they were meant for. This will naturally result in higher fares still being charged, an act that Goa’s taxi operators have been accused of repeatedly in the past, with various posts on social media sites of such overcharging, that has damaged the tourism image of the State. Tourism stakeholders are therefore justified in demanding that the fare meters be used. Besides, as the meters have been subsidised, shouldn’t the benefit of cheaper fares be passed on to the people?

The aim of having digital fare meters was to put an end to the practice of charging exorbitant rates for short and long distances. If the meters after being installed are not being utilised, it signifies that the move has not brought about the desired result, as operators have found a loophole to exploit. When pleading and cajoling with the taxi operators did not work, the government got strict and threatened cancellation of licences if the fare meters were not installed. It had to do so, as the court had pulled up the State for delaying implementation of the meters. Does it require a similar threat of some action to get the taxi operators to charge fares as per the meters? 

The taxi fare issue in Goa requires a solution to the benefit of all. Taxi operators want profits, tourism stakeholders want a better experience for the visitors, tourists want a reasonable fare, locals will be glad to use taxi services if the fare is easy on the pocket. It is not as difficult as it appears. The aggregator service that has proved to be beneficial to all in other States could meet the needs of Goa. The only obstacle in making it happen is the fear among the taxi operators that they would lose business. This reservation has no basis and should be dispelled. Since the government has been unsuccessful in convincing the taxi operators of the benefits of aggregator services, can the tourism stakeholders take up the challenge?


Idhar Udhar