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Siliguri to get metered taxi services from this year’s Durga Puja

EOI
Darjeeling : The Darjeeling district administration has finally decided after a year of discussions to start metered taxi services in the Siliguri sub-division from this year’s Durga Puja on the Kolkata model. To get a feel of the response from those concerned, the district administration will initially start with 1,000 metered taxis and subsequently increase the numbers if the move is welcomed. The decision was announced today by Darjeeling district magistrate Puneet Yadav. “We sat for a meeting with the Regional Transport Authority Board of the plains and the hills and took a decision to start metered taxi services before the start of festivities this year,” said Yadav, who is also the chairman of the RTAB. The idea of operating metered taxi services was mulled a year ago, but it failed to gain momentum due to technical issues. As Darjeeling is the district headquarters, the RTA board is based here, but after the formation of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, another board has been formed in Siliguri sub-division for the convenience plains people. “In last year’s RTA meeting, we discussed the agenda of having a contract carriage permit for metered taxi services for both the plains and hills regions. 

However, the RTA could not come to a conclusion on the issue due to certain technical problems,” said Yadav. Metered taxi service will be functional only in the Siliguri and the Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority (SJDA) areas. Applications will be invited through newspaper advertisements and candidates selected accordingly. “The metered taxi service is a state government initiative. Those interested can also take loans to purchase vehicles and we will be placing advertisement in newspapers within this month. We will also take interviews of prospective candidates,” said the DM. Kolkata taxis have a single blue stripe on the body, while those in Siliguri will have two blue stripes, in adherence to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s favourite colours, blue and white. “The taxis to operate in Siliguri will be of the latest model and be equipped with a meter that will print receipts,” said Yadav, adding the rates have not been fixed as yet by the RTA. “We will hold another meeting to discuss and fix rates and send them to the state government for approval. 

We will do this after consulting with taxi syndicates operating in Siliguri. We will probably have the same rates prevailing in Kolkata,” he further informed. When asked if a similar service for the hills will also be introduced the DM said a recommendation will be made to the state government. “As of now, the state government has decided to start the service in the plains only. However, we will think about a similar service for the hills if there is popular demand and evaluate things in our forthcoming meeting,” said Yadav. But GTA transport department executive member Jyoti Rai, who was present at the meeting, ruled out the idea of metered taxis in the hills. “Such a service is only feasible in the plains. The topography of the hills is different and several problems will crop up if we start the service here,” he said.


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