Commuters, fed up with drivers refusing fares and the pathetic condition of autos and taxis, are furious with the steep hike in auto and taxi fares, which will come into effect from October 11.
Consumer activists believe that instead of hiking fares, the state should have started share-auto/taxi schemes from railway stations, which would have benefited both drivers and commuters.
“Travelling has become unaffordable. We are paying more, but what we get is long waits in traffic and delays,” said Rajkumar Sharma, 62, social activist and Chembur resident. “Instead, the government should have started share-auto schemes and share-taxi schemes from all railway stations.”
Shirish Deshpande, chairman of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat, said the government acted hastily. “It has buckled under pressure from unions. It is not technically prepared to implement the hike by recalibrating all the meters in the recommended time frame of 45 days,” he said.
Transport activist Sunil Mone points out the government’s promise to take action against drivers for refusing fares, carrying wrong tariff cards and tampering with meters may be little more than words. “The government may have assured action, but does it have sufficient manpower to enforce all of this? It should also have ensured that the unions become accountable for quality of service of it members,” he said.
Others said the government should first have ensured that the e-meters being installed cannot be tampered with. “E-meters have also been found tampered. The government should ensure this does not happen, otherwise commuters will pay more because of the fare hike and will get fleeced as well,” said Jagdeep Desai, another activist.
Commuters criticised the plan to hike fares every May 1. “It’s absurd that after such a huge hike, the fare will rise in eight months. This hike will affect travelling expenses badly. I need to cut down on auto travel to balance my budget,” Sonal Shetty, 24, a teacher and Malad resident.