Mumbai is a hectic metropolis infamous for its traffic chaos. The hundreds of thousands of tiny black and yellow cabs and rickshaws that criss-cross the streets have caused plenty of frustration for the city’s 14 million residents.
To better tackle the issue, three Mumbai-based advertising professionals developed Meter Jam, an online and on-the-streets campaign, as Akshay Mani wrote about earlier this month. The goal of the strike is to generate awareness about the auto and cab drivers who cause untold problems for travelers by refusing patrons and tampering with car meters. More than 40,000 people participated in the August 12-13 strike. Some important people took note.
According to a story in MumbaiMirror:
“The traffic cops have booked and fined 362 auto and taxi drivers for refusing short fares in just two days – Thursday and Friday. That’s 181 cases a day, a seven-fold increase from the daily average of 20-25 such cases.”
And Mumbai Joint Commissioner of Police, Vivek Phansalkar, responded to the action in an interview with The Times of India:
“I agree that people need better service from auto and cabs in the city…people have expressed their anger loud and clear. We plan to adopt a two-pronged approach. First, come down heavily on the drivers who refuse fares…”
And the other piece involves working with unions to ensure drivers are following the basic rules. The Commissioner says his department has already arrested 500 drivers in the four days following the strike. He has also asked police officers to monitor railway and bus stations where most of the misconducts occur. The Commissioner said seven to eight rounds of checks are occurring everyday at train stations, bus stops, and junctions where taxis tend to refuse people.
One of the most exciting responses to the two-day strike involves the Home Minister of Maharashtra, R. R. Patil, who invited the three designers of the project for a meeting. Given their work developing the campaign, the minister asked that they prepare a report on the grievances of commuters. Patil promises to take action. He further elaborated:
“… unions [will] issue pamphlets to give drivers clear guidelines on etiquette and discipline. After 10 days, if they’re still out of line on rules pertaining to licenses and permits, courtesy to passengers, faulty meters, uniforms and badges, the government will crack down on them.”
To join the discussion to improve Mumbai’s streets, comment on this post or join the Meter Jam Facebook group.