Our city, Kolkata is one of odds. While there are certain things in the city we can’t get enough of, there are others we detest from the core of our hearts and then there is the ‘yellow ambassador taxi’ which simply does not fall in any of the above categories.
Well, do the following things:
- Search ‘Kolkata’ in google images. The result will throw up an image of the yellow cab in the second or third row.
- Now, type in ‘Kolkata Taxi’, in google search. Before you can type anything else, the search suggestion will display, ‘Kolkata Taxi Complaint’, ‘Kolkata Taxi Refusal’, ‘Kolkata Taxi Rigged Meter’
So, on one side, while the trusty yellow cab is portrayed as a symbol of the city and its heritage, on the other it is treated like a menace to the city.
Let us take a moment here and ask the question WHY?
Why is it that the perspective of a taxi cab driver is never taken into account?
Why is it that statistics are never shown on how many cab drivers refuse a passenger and how many don’t?
Why is it that surveys are never done on which particular areas the cab drivers are reluctant to go? What is the reason behind their refusal?
Cabbie 1: Lal Mohan Yadav from Bihar.
Driving his taxi from 1998. Returns at least 2-3 mobile phones in a month.
Brazenly admits to saying that he refuses passengers bound towards Raja Bazar and Khidirpur. He admits that out of 10 trips to these places thrice his passengers refuse to pay or leave the cab and go upon reaching their destination.
Cabbie 2: Arjun Sahani from Bihar
Driving his taxi from 1996. Had returned more than 5000 cash a passenger had left in his taxi back in 2007. Lost track of the number of phones he has returned. On multiple occasions has risked his own life to take emergency medical cases to aid.
Refuses passengers to Metiaburz and Topsia. Once was gheroed by the locals in Topsia when a local man refused to pay the fare and he argued with him over it.
And while talking of cabbies in Kolkata, it is incomplete without a word from the city’s green cabbie, ‘Bapi Green Taxi’ as he likes to call himself.
We caught up with the most celebrated taxi driver in the city to get his point of view. Here’s what Bapi Green Taxi had to say:
“Yellow cabs have a tendency to refuse passengers as Kolkata mostly has one-side fare. As in we are reluctant to take passengers from point A to Point B if ‘B’ is a place from where a return fare seems difficult to get”
Taxi drivers and passengers can have the best of bondings if both are willing to adjust a bit.
To put it simply. When a person is in distress or in trouble, the first thing they seek after coming out of the house is a Taxi, not any relative.
The are a lot of factors behind a Taxi driver refusing a passenger.
First thing in the morning most Taxi drivers have to do is pay the taxi owner to take the cab. The entire day is spent maneuvering around a heavy vehicle in traffic. All this is coupled with abuses from people, harassment from the police and the heat of the car.
Before mindlessly labeling all taxi drivers in a negative way is a loss bot to the city and the thousands of cab drivers across the city driving to god knows where, away from family, to make ends meet.
The Beacon urges Kolkatans to consider this side of the story before hating this yellow symbol of the city.