Thursday, September 03, 2009

GPS-fitted autos to our rescue

GPS-fitted autos to our rescue

Commuters will benefit a lot as the government is planning to fit GPS to digital meters of autorickshaws to keep a tab on drivers who overcharge and take detours to jack up the rates, Shwetha S and Ni-et Teronpi report

Shwetha S

Auto drivers struggling to repay loans taken for LPG kits and digital meters may have to organise more funds. Road transport officials are planning to make it mandatory for them to attach GPS system to the digital meters of their autos. This is to prevent tampering and make the system more commuter-friendly.
The government's recent prescription of a green and yellow colour code for autorickshaws have also made drivers see red.
"There were reports that digital meters can also be tampered with. To prevent this, we are going to install GPS integrated digital system to the digital meters so the fare will be calculated and tracking of the autos can also be done," Road Transport Commissioner Bhaskar Rao said.
"If the GPS system is installed to digital meters, nobody can open it. If they try to tamper with the mechanism, the meter will become non-functional. It will take some time to implement this technology. We've ordered installation of digital meters in all autos. Once this process is completed, we will install the GPS system. We have sent the proposal to the department of legal meteorology," he said.
Sources in the legal meteorology department said they are ready to run it but only after all autos shift to digital meters.
"We will run it on a trial basis. If it works, we will regularise it in all the autos. But many autos are still running without digital meters. We have been checking them on a regular basis," a source from the department said.
An auto drivers' union welcomed the move with caution.
"We don't mind if they install GPS system to the digital meters, but to make the digital meters compulsory itself is taking lot of time. About 77,000 autos are running in the city. Of this, only 35,000 are fitted with digital meters. These digital meters should be made compulsory only for four-stroke vehicles. The government is giving us just Rs1,000 as subsidy. If they give Rs3,000, all the autos will install digital meters," said C Sampath, representing Adarsh Auto and Taxi Drivers Association.
On the proposed colour code, he said it would be an additional burden for drivers.
"We're are struggling to repay the loan of Rs15,000 availed for installing the LPG kit. Now if the colour code is to be followed, the cost of repainting the autorickshaws to green and yellow would mean an additional expenditure of Rs10,000 to Rs12,000. It will impossible for us to pay such a big amount," he said.
If the government is so adamant in implementing the code, it should increase the aid for purchase of four-stroke engines from Rs10,000 to Rs25,000.
"Newly manufactured autos will come in the prescribed colour. They will be in good condition and we can escape from spending money on repainting the existing autos. We will not have any problem in spending money on new vehicles as it will serve us for a longer period", he said.
He said the government should provide financial assistance to auto drivers instead of introducing newer and newer policies.
"When LPG kit was made mandatory for all autos, the amount given for purchase of the kit was only Rs2,000 while its actual cost was Rs15,000. Similarly, when the digital meter was introduced, the government gave us only Rs1,000," he said.
Apart from seeking financial aid to keep up with the changing policies of the government in relation to autos, the union wants accident benefits to be raised from Rs50,000 to Rs100,000. It also wants speedy distribution of smart cards.


At Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 8:42:00 PM GMT+5:30, Anonymous Sridhar said...

Whats the use of this, when auto drivers in many parts of bangalore, especially in Whitefield area don't at all use meters but have a fixed rate, or Rs 12 - 15 per km. The residents don't have much choice - either get into an already fully packed overloaded bus or pay high fares and get into these autos.


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