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Taxi operations in Mumbai (and elsewhere)

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  • eric.britton@ecoplan.org
    Friday, June 11, 2004, Paris, France, Europe As our long time colleagues Brendan Finn and Bina Balakrishnan point out in the pair of attached emails to the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 10, 2004
      Friday, June 11, 2004, Paris, France, Europe

      As our long time colleagues Brendan Finn and Bina Balakrishnan point out in the pair of attached emails to the Sustran group, a most interesting dialogue on taxi operations and innovation is opening up there which has application in most parts of the world. While the immediate focus of the discussions is the present situation in Mumbai, the issues are ones that face just about all of us.

      Fortunately if you want to catch up on these exchanges, all you have to do is go to the New Mobility Agenda at http://newmobility.org and click the Discussion Groups, and there at the very top the email library of The Sustainable Transport Action Network for Asia & the Pacific is right at the top of the pile.


      Eric Britton


      -----Original Message-----
      Behalf Of Brendan Finn
      Sent: Monday, June 07, 2004 10:55 AM
      To: Bina C. Balakrishnan; Asia and the Pacific sustainable transport
      Subject: [sustran] Re: Taxi operations in Mumbai

      Dear Bina,

      This has become an interesting strand, because we can now see that there are many actions being considered in parallel. Single dimension solutions are rarely successful in solving complex problems, so the news from Mumbai is quite encouraging.

      Two small suggestions about the content of your mail :

      a) Your suggested approach of using parking as a travel demand management tool is very appropriate, provided there is the will to enforce it. This was used quite effectively in Dublin during the 1980's when there was no will to use any other measures. Of course, it is low-cost, low-investment and very simple, although it attracts direct opposition from car owners. I think the critical success factor is to get traders to accept that no parking and controlled deliveries is much better for their business (individually and for the whole street). The parking aproach has now become more sophisticated since there are better trafiic control measures with which to integrate. If you wish, I can give you a broad overview from memory, and recommend who to talk to in the city for the facts.

      b) For the 'dial-a-cab' facility, there are perhaps three options to consider. The first is for the individual booking, so perhaps systems like Singapore where the cab companies provide a very good booking facility and usually you get the cab to your door in 2-5 minutes. The second is shared taxi, so here the dispatch centre acts as a broker among people who want taxi service, but are willing to share cost and comfort. The third is demand responsive minibuses, where the cost should be much lower than taxi, and the service much better than regular bus. A lot of work has been done in Europe on these options in developing both the operating scenarios and the booking and dispatch technologies, although the reailty is that the most suitable passenger markets are in Asia. Again, if you are interested, I can give you some overviews and put you in touch with information sources. Being realistic, these type of services are not for the poor (at least in our current generation). However, there is a significant market that has both affordability and desire for medium-quality transportation. They can support such services, and if they don't have something of acceptable quality, then they will acquire personal motorised transport even if it is hard on them financially. It would be intersting to know what is the uptake of mobile phones in Mumbai, since SMS can be a very effective and cheap tool for making bookings and receiving confirmations - once the public has the communication device, the main financial barrier is removed.

      I will now look at your website to learn more about Bombay First.

      With best wishes,

      Brendan Finn. _______________________________________________________________________
      Contact details are : e-mail : etts@... tel : +353.87.2530286

      ----- Original Message -----
      From: "Bina C. Balakrishnan" <binac@...>
      To: "Puttanna S.Honaganahalli" <psh@...>
      Cc: "Asia and the Pacific sustainable transport" <sustran-discuss@...>
      Sent: Monday, June 07, 2004 8:34 AM
      Subject: [sustran] Re: Taxi operations in Mumbai

      Dear Mr Mehta, Puttanna,

      Thank you very much for your inputs.
      At the outset, I have to tell you that we (Bombay First) are primarily initiators of change. We do not go into the finer details of design and implementation of the project, but identify areas for possible improvement, study the broad aspects of the same, and make recommendations to the concerned authorities / agencies for detailed study or implementation. Do visit our web-site at


      To respond to your comments, we have already considered most of them in the study framework.

      Yes, one of our objectives is to examine the feasibility of shifting some work trips by private cars to taxi trips, but the economics have to be in favour of this(!!)

      Augmenting public transport has always been a priority, and the BEST are going about it in a very systematic way. However, there is also a project that has been lying with the Municipal Corporation for almost 2 years, where I have recommended the use of parking as a demand management tool in Mumbai. The idea is to bring all street side parking under the pay and park scheme, banning it altogether on arterial roads, and raising the parking charges substantially from the very nominal Rs 5 per hour that it is today. The restriction on arterial roads is expected to release kerb-side lanes for exclusive bus lanes, and the higher charges and limited availability of parking will hopefully induce people to car pool and /or use public transport. However, for various reasons, the project is still lying with the MCGB.

      Yes, we have included the dial- a- cab facility in this study, and the new models of cabs can be designed to have a more prominent display of the vehicle for hire flag. As for raising fares - that is the moot point- we need to work out some other way of keeping the vehicles in better shape- hence the consideration of the operator system. But as Brendan has said, since we are looking to replace old vehicles with new in a low wage, low tariff situation, the finances will not fit easily. Hence, we are looking into subsidies for the new purchases, or some financial arrangement whereby the changeover can be made more attractive.

      About removing hurdles- I assume you are referring to the restrictions on autos plying beyond Bandra? Well, I don't think it would be a good idea for them to come further south. I think they are driven very rashly, and their high maneuverability make them initiators of accidents, and besides, South Mumbai is doing very nicely without them!

      Restriction on car ownership? I think I'd best leave that to you, Mr. Mehta!

      Best regards,
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