PASSENGERS CAN NOW BOOK PREPAID TAXI ONLINE 60 DAY IN ADVANCE OF ARRIVAL
By bappaditya paul
GOOD NEWS FOR PASSENGERS travelling to Howrah railway station ~ one of the busiest and the largest railway station in India!
Howrah City Police in collaboration with the railways is introducing an E-taxi service for train passengers, using which people can book prepaid taxis online 60 days in advance of their arrival at Howrah station.
The service will be launched on Wednesday on Poila Baishak (Bengali New Year) by Howrah Police Commissioner Ajey Mukund Ranade and Howrah Divisional Railway Manager R Badri Narayan.
The initiative, a first at a railway station in India, is expected to come in handy for thousands of passengers who arrive at Howrah railway station everyday and are required to queue up for up to 45 minutes to get a cab.
As of now, passengers have the option to book a cab using radio taxi services such as Megacabs, Ola Cab etc 48-hour in advance, but are required to pay parking charges, and waiting fee when a train arrives behind schedule. Most radio taxi providers close modifications in bookings an hour before the original requisition time for a cab.
Under the E-taxi service of Howrah City Police, passengers will not be required to pay any such charges even if their train is delayed for hours altogether. The fare charged will be the one in force for regular taxis plying in Kolkata as prescribed by the Bengal government’s Transport Department, plus a 10 rupees service charge.
To book an E-taxi all that a person needs to do is visit the Howrah City Police’s official website http://howrahcitypolice.in/ and click the Book Prepaid Taxi icon and enter date-time, destination, mobile number and email ID.
The moment one selects a destination, the system will automatically display the prescribed fare and the payment can be made using debit/credit card or through online banking of 57 nationalised and private banks. Once the payment is made, a code would be automatically sent to the passenger’s mobile number and e-mail ID.
“On arriving at Howrah station, the passenger will enter the code on a specially designed kiosk that we have installed near the exits of the old and new station buildings. Within seconds two paper slips will be dispensed by the kiosk mentioning the taxi number and lane where the taxi is stationed,” explained the DC (Traffic) of Howrah City Police, Sumit Kumar.
“Of the two slips dispensed by the kiosk, one will be driver’s copy to be handed over by the passenger on reaching destination,” he said adding, ” We have a pool of 6,000 private taxis whose status get automatically updated on our server once they pass through the Radio Frequency Identification bar gates that are installed at Howrah station’s taxi-bays.”
To begin with, the Howrah Police have installed two kiosks procured from Hyderabad-based Analogics Tech India Ltd; they plan to install four more kiosks over the next few months.
The E-taxi service will run parallel to the four manual Pre-paid taxi booking booths that are functional at Howrah station for the past few years.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 15 April 2015.)