Mumbai’s famous Kaali Peeli taxis, the Premier Padmini cars that dotted its streets for decades, finally drove into history books on Monday.
The government of Maharashtra has called for these iconic taxis to end their life on the roads of the metropolis as the state does not permit cars older than 20 years to be on roads. These beloved yellow-topped black taxis, which have been an integral part of the city’s culture, are set to leave the show, even though many Mumbaikars admitted they were going to miss them.
Recently the government also discontinued the city’s iconic double-decker buses that had been a familiar presence for over 15 years. Now, with these taxis, which found their way into the hearts of Mumbaikars, also being discontinued, this decision of the government has upset a lot of people in the financial capital of India.
The ubiquitous taxis originated with the rise of the popularity of the Fiat 1100 Delight sedan. Following this, they then transformed into the Premier President and finally became the iconic Padmini in 1974. Over the years, these vehicles became much more than just modes of transportation. They played a pivotal role in the livelihoods of many. The Walchand Hirachand family, who owned Premier Automobiles Ltd., provided these at reduced prices, becoming a source of income for those who migrated to Mumbai in search of employment.
Later in the journey of these taxis, when petrol prices soared in the country, Premier Automobiles responded by releasing the first diesel-powered Padmini cabs. These more economical taxis continued serving the city until the 2020s, despite the manufacturing halt in 2001.
AL Quadros, President of Mumbai Taximen’s Union, made a plea to the government to preserve a few of these iconic taxis. However, the likelihood of the government accepting this request is very unlikely. Apart from this, most of the taxi drivers who drove these are not happy with the decision. Most likely, these drivers will now be making their switches to newer vehicles to continue their livelihood.