Thursday, August 26, 2010

Autorickshaw meters still show old fares

Autorickshaw meters still show old fares
Auto drivers, looking to exploit passengers, are reluctant to recalibrate meters
Suchith.Kidiyoor @timesgroup.com


Over a month ago, auto drivers in the city stormed heaven and the government to have fares increased and succeeded, but a huge majority are reluctant to recalibrate their meters.
Bowing to demands from auto drivers and auto unions, the government had revised fares, increasing the minimum payable to Rs 17 from Rs 14 and Rs 9 per kilometre thereafter from the earlier Rs 7.
The revision in fares had come into effect at the start of this month, but drivers were given two months by the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) to recalibrate meters.
With almost a month gone, only about 18 per cent of autos in the city run on recalibrated meters, while the others are making hay while the sun shines. RTA authorities believe auto drivers are waiting until the deadline nears as they can exploit passengers by demanding excess fares in the interim.
M Gopalappa, assistant controller of legal metrology department, said, “The last time fares were hiked, we had recalibrated meters for 63,000 autos. With the latest revision, only about 14,000 drivers have come forward to recalibrate meters. The majority of them have not done so yet. We expect long queues as the deadline approaches.”
Auto drivers have to recalibrate their autos at authorised meter technicians and the process costs Rs 225. There are over 60 authorised meter technicians in the city, each capable of recalibrating between 100-150 autos a day. Once recalibration is complete, government metrology officials seal the meter so that it cannot be tampered with by drivers. About 1,500 meters can be sealed every day.
NO EXTENSION PLEA
More than 20 lakh people use autos every day in the city and most of them have had to deal with either rude drivers, ones demanding excess fares or others refusing to ply.
Leaders of auto unions have planned a crackdown on these errant drivers. “We have decided not to ask for the deadline to be extended,” said M Manjunath, president of Adarsh Auto and Taxi Drivers’ Union.
“We think passengers will end up paying more if meters are not recalibrated. Moreover most of the drivers run tampered meters and do not carry a tariff chart with them. To teach them a lesson, we will urge the department concerned to take stringent action if they fail to recalibrate within the deadline.”
250 AUTO DRIVERS BOOKED
In a test drive, transport department officials have taken action against more than 250 auto drivers in the city. RTO officials have acted based on the complaints received from passengers through emails.

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