Welfare service of HRTC turns into business
Shimla: The taxi service started by Himachal Roadways (HRTC) in Shimla city with a view to provide better commuting facilities for old and infirm people has turned into a profitable business, so much so that it has been outsourced by way of contract and handed over to private operators, and the very people for whom the service was intended are now at the receiving end.
The ‘welfare’ taxi service is now being used as the main source of transportation, more so when the regular bus services are disrupted due to the strikes, snowfalls or breakdown of roads, forcing the old and needy people to suffer.
The Himachal Roadways taxi service, started about 6 years ago, was initially only for the purpose of benefiting old people, patients and tourists as it is tough for them to travel by overloaded buses.
Today, where it has become cheaper to use this taxi service than the public bus transport system, getting a seat in these taxies is a ‘might is right’ affair, making it extremely difficult for the very people for whom the service was actually started.
Chevrolet’s Tavera which is a 12 seats taxi is being overloaded with more than 15 people and each passenger is charged Rs 10 on different routes of Shimla, it also means that the service has been able to serve the interests of richer and physically stronger people only.
Nathasha, a tourist from Delhi, said she was disappointed with the taxi service after she could not get into the vehicle for the third time. “Now I will not be able to visit Jakhu Temple as it is not possible for me to go on foot”, said Nathasha.
Giving the contract to private operators has made the service profit oriented venture and it is working in the opposite direction of the desired purpose of the welfare of helpless people.
As per the earlier directions, the front seat of the taxi was reserved for two senior citizens but the operators of these taxies do not bother to help the old people.
Now according to new rules, it has been made mandatory for the taxi operators to help all the senior citizens first to get into the taxi and rest of the young people can sit only if seats are vacant.
But still these taxi owners are not following the rules and overloading their taxies without caring for senior citizens.
One taxi driver on conditions of anonymity let Hill Post know, “Everyone wants to reach on time and with comfort. We cannot enforce order or are not responsible whether someone is getting a seat or not as many times there is a huge crowd waiting for these taxis at various pickup points.”
Photo by Nisha Chauhan