Friday, August 13, 2010

Meter jam peters out

Meter jam peters out
Bangalore, Aug 12, DHNS

The much hyped ‘Meter Jam’ campaign asking people to desist from using autorickshaws and taxis seems to have come a cropper, at least here in the City.

Started off as a public campaign by three advertising professionals in Mumbai, to protest the hike in taxi and auto fares, the web initiative on Facebook, Orkut and Twitter, might have recorded hundreds, perhaps thousands of postings, but many daily passengers chose to go about using autos, as the additional buses pressed into service by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) failed to provide the desired last mile connectivity.

However, BMTC officials said there was a marginal increase in occupancy levels in many of its buses. Autorickshaw drivers, who spoke to Deccan Herald, seemed to be not aware of the online campaign that asked the public not to hire autos on Thursday.

“Most of the automen are not literate in English. Newspapers in Kannada did not mention or highlight about the campaign. Meter Jam does not have any meaning to us. Public did not shy away from using autos, here in Bangalore,” quipped Syed Asif, an autodriver.

Sunitha M, an insurance agent at Life Insurance Corporation (LIC), who commutes in an auto, said though she was aware of Meter Jam, she chose to travel by auto on Thursday.
“It is difficult to travel by a BMTC bus. Firstly, you have to walk miles from your house to reach the nearest bus stop and then walk another mile or so to reach your office. As this was waste of precious time, travel by auto was unavoidable,” she said.

Namma Auto

M Manjunath, president of Adarsha Auto Drivers Union said the unions will carry out an initiative to help average auto driver earn respect from the public.

“Auto Jam has not achieved desired results. However, public have a right to complain about behaviour of automen. We will shortly come out with a concrete proposal to make travel by autos a safe, reliable and affordable option. All eight recognised auto-unions in the City have decided to launch ‘Namma Auto’ initiative that will go a long way in offering a good mode of transport with courteous drivers. It will be a branding exercise, where-in drivers will sport a new uniform with a ‘Namma Auto’ logo” he said.

Budget Auto

Autos under this brand will be equipped with a Global Positioning System or GPS and a call centre number. Another proposal is a ‘Budget Auto’ where a shared concept of travel, wherein passengers heading towards a common area can travel together, Manjunath added.

The unions have also decided to submit a report to the Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Traffic-East to ensure that a new system where-in all autos plying in a particular area is registered with the jurisdictional police station.

“By doing this, numbers can be given to every auto. The autos can easily be monitored by the police, if there is any complaints of excess fare or tampered meter,” Manjunath added.

The unions have also proposed a cash award of Rs 10,000 to any member of the public who proves a rigged/tampered meter and a Rs 20,000 award to an auto driver, who informs the unions of a tampered meter in any auto and a Rs 1 lakh award to an auto driver who returns unclaimed luggage/valuables of a passenger.

“Passengers are the bread and butter for every automan. We have to respect them,” he said.

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