Drivers sit in huddles all day awaiting their turn for any passenger who steps out of departures. (Representational Image)
With a drastic drop in international fliers, taxi drivers outside airports are now heading back to their hometowns to wait out the lean business period. Over the past one week, drivers have had to wait anywhere between 10 and 15 hours for even a single customer even as their daily income has dropped to Rs 150 per day from Rs 300 per day.
The departure area at the international airport now wears a deserted look with rows of Kaali-Peelis and cool cabs parked at their designated spots with no passengers around to hail them. Drivers sit in huddles all day awaiting their turn for any passenger who steps out of departures.
Santosh Yadav has managed to get only one passenger since Saturday and earned Rs 135 over more than 24 hours. For Yadav, the situation has remained the same over the past two weeks but worsened since Monday.
“I have booked a train ticket back home and will return once the situation normalises a little,” he says, adding that he has to spend about Rs 400 on fuel and another Rs 400 as the daily cab rent but with no poor business, sustenance has become a major challenge.
Whereas 60-year-old Harban Singh, who has been a taxi driver since 1986 and presently runs a cool cab from outside the airport, has seen many lean days but none of them stretched for such a long duration. “The whole idea of coming to the airport is to flex your muscles knowing full well that there are no passengers,” he says.
According to Harban, a cool cab driver gets at least 14 trips in one week. But in the last one week, they have dropped to less than four trips in the entire week. Yoginath Tiwari (68), who sits across from him, points out that the cool cab has a weekly rent of about Rs 2,000 apart from fuel and personal expenses.
Harpreet Kaur (45), who runs one of the women taxi services from outside the international terminus, says they have to wait at least 10 hours to get one passenger and are ensuring complete safety with masks and sanitisers.
Harpreet is worried that about her instalment of Rs 19,000 she has to pay at the end of the month for her vehicle, which she purchased a year ago. “Banks should make some concession as business across has taken a hit,” she says.
Sanjay Kumar Mishra (45), associated with a popular cab aggregator, has to send Rs 10,000 to his son who is pursuing UPSC. “Even at airports, we hardly get one trip during the day and the money is not enough to even save on monthly expenses,” he says.