On Thursday, the first day of the steep hike in auto and taxi tariffs, commuters had to contend with not just the daily hassle of fare refusals, faulty meters and rude drivers, they had to deal with the additional stress of not knowing how much to pay. Not surprising then that there was a lot of confusion and quarrels.
The latest fare hike requires all taxi and auto meters to be recalibrated, and until that is done, both commuters and drivers will have to rely on the new tariff card issued by the state transport department. As the department started distributing the cards only around noon on Wednesday, most people had not got the cards.
"I took an auto from Mulund check naka to Bhandup in the morning. There was a major confusion about the fare as the meter was not recalibrated. I saw so many people get into arguments with auto drivers," said Shweta Nair, 23, a media professional.
People, already agitated about the hike, were also upset that a steep hike did not mean better quality of service. "I have to take an auto from my home in Goregaon to my office at Saki Naka every day. With the fares going up, I expected better behaviour from auto drivers, but I had the same experience -at least four drivers refused to go to Saki Naka and then the journey ended with an argument over the fare," said Rayak Dangson, 25, financial consultant.
Atul Amode, 24, an MBA student, said he does not mind paying more, provided he gets something worth that additional cost. "But drivers just continue to refuse fares, behave badly and cheat people," he said.
Gladys Menon, 73, who travels from Worli to Ballard Estate every day, said: "At this age, I cannot travel by bus during peak hour. I have no choice but to pay the extra money."
Nafisa Sheikh, 32, a homemaker and resident of Mulund, said she is now thinking of investing in a bicycle. "I have to take my nine-year-old son to school by auto every day. With the steep hike, it will be better to invest in a cycle. The money spent on auto rides can be used for a better purpose," she said. "It is unfair on the government's part to accept the demands made by taxi and auto unions. This hike is going to upset our monthly budget," complained Pragnya Pawar, 50, a Mahim resident.