CHENNAI: Getting a cab is a struggle for passengers arriving at night at the Chennai airport as the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is yet to hire an adequate number of taxi services.
Passengers have only two options – book a cab using an app or use the prepaid taxi run by the drivers cooperative. In other metro cities, more choices are available at airports with convenient pick-up points.
People who land at night struggle as app-based cabs often cancel the ride while the prepaid taxi service is expensive, charging almost double the fare.
International travellers are the worst affected as they may not have local mobile connection to book a cab online.
“I have a terrible experience every time I land,” says Venkateswaran W S, who travels frequently. “Passengers coming out are harassed by taxi drivers offering their service. The pick-up point for cabs at the international arrivals is cramped, because it also serves as the parking lot.”
It’s worse at night, he says, as cabs cancel the ride if fare is not acceptable to them. Due to construction work near the terminals, cabs also take time to pick up passengers.
“Passengers do not have adequate choices. They have to use the expensive prepaid taxi service. The airport should put up boards if autos are not allowed inside,” adds Venkateswaran.
“The airport must offer counters to app-based taxis. This would help travellers without local mobile connections book cabs,” says Mohan, another passenger. “Domestic terminal passengers have to go farther from the terminal to board cabs. It’s a hassle.”
“Metro rail can consider a few night services as many passengers arriving at the airport head towards CMBT to take a bus to their final destination,” says Mohan. AAI had floated tenders for hiring cab aggregators and for maxi cab services, without success.
Opening a multilevel carparking facility with pick up points will ease the situation, says a senior AAI official. It will free up space in front of terminals.
“We will be starting trials soon, and, based on the results, multilevel parking buildings will be commissioned next month for construction,” the official said. “App-based cabs are allowed to park inside. But many of them choose to park outside and come in only after they get a booking. This is a peculiar problem.”