You can expect the revision of auto and taxi fares, which will come into effect on Thursday, to make your commute even more stressful, and it won’t only be because you have to pay more.
There are 41,000 black-and-yellow cabs and 1.5 lakh autos in Mumbai, and the hike requires the recalibration of all meters – both mechanical and electronic. The transport department expects the recalibration process to be completed in 45 days, but differences over recalibration charges between the transport authorities, unions and meter manufactures promise chaos and trouble for commuters.
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority has approved a Rs. 2 minimum fare hike for taxis and a Rs. 3 hike for autos. It has also hiked each subsequent kilometre fare of taxis from Rs. 10.50 to Rs. 12.35 and autos from Rs. 7.12 to Rs. 9.87. It has reduced the minimum distance to 1.5 km from 1.6 km and reduced the stage at which the meter changes to 100 meters, which makes calibration essential.
The transport commissioner’s office on Monday called a meeting of meter manufactures and repairers and requested them to recalibrate all meters at an all-inclusive cost of Rs. 400, which they have refused to do.
“Considering the cost of the chipset, transportation, software development and administrative charges, it is very low,” said an e-meter manufacturer from Pune. A mechanical meter manufacturer said it can’t be less than Rs. 600. “On Tuesday, we will let the department know what we can afford.”
“We have requested all meter repairers and manufacturers to recalibrate meters within three days, once a taxi or auto comes to them. They have agreed,” a senior RTO official said.
Shashank Rao, leader of Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union, said the government should not force drivers to recalibrate meters till the next hike in May 2013 as there is no infrastructure in place. He said drivers could operate using the new tariff cards to be distributed by the transport department.