According to sources in taxi unions, about 19,000 kaali-peelis are on the roads now, a far cry from 63,000 in 1997- there's been a 70% reduction in the fleet in the last two decades. After 1997, there was a freeze in new permits for taxis, and by 2012, the number of taxis dropped to 38,000.
Since then, the number of kaali-peelis has been further falling drastically even as aggregator cabs started becoming popular due to their low fares, AC ride and easy pick-up feature.
The number of aggregator cabs has now more than doubled to 67,000 from 30,000 just a couple of years ago, according to statistics from the transport department.
There has also been a migration of drivers from kaali-peelis to aggregator cabs. "Owing to stiff competition, we are unable to get business, specially for long distance routes," said S M Mishra, a kaali-peeli driver for two decades. Some times, one can travel in an aggregator cab at the rate of autorickshaw fare. "This is the reason why I have registered with the Ola app. In the mornings, I operate on the share taxi routes in south Mumbai while in the afternoons, I ply passengers who book kaali-peeli taxis through Ola app," he said.
Mumbai Taximen Union leader A L Quadros admitted there's been a decline in number of drivers plying kaali-peeli. "We have an acute shortage of drivers and several cabs with valid permits are lying idle in the city (GTB Nagar, Antop Hill etc). Besides, there are hardly any takers for new taxi permits being offered by the government," he said adding that stringent government policy also led to the dip in number of drivers.
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