iconimg Sunday, August 30, 2015

Subhendu Ray, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 09, 2014
Now getting caught in a big jam or halting for more than 15 minutes while in an auto rickshaw will cost you. Over and above the regular auto fare, you now have to pay Rs. 2 for every minute the auto halts for more than 15 minutes, be it day or night. So, when the auto-rickshaw driver switches off his vehicle – as they often do when stuck in a jam – the meter will start counting down the 15 minutes. Delhiites pay Rs. 25 for first two kilometers and Rs. 8 for every additional kilometer.

Following a proposal by Delhi traffic police, the Delhi transport department had issued a notification for halting charges on May 2013 but its only recently that Delhi’s Weight and Measures department has started re-calibrating auto-rickshaw meters to incorporate halting charges.

A senior transport department official said the new meters will also show Rs. 25 as minimum charge, “a few hundred autorickshaws have been upgraded and remaining of the 85,000 fleet will be upgraded within a couple of months”.

Welcoming the move, Delhi law minister Somnath Bharti asked the commuters not to pay anything more than the metered amount to autorickshaw drivers even if asked.

The move was also cheered by the Delhi traffic police. “This will help us in reducing cases of refusals as the auto drivers will earn extra bucks for halting at congested areas,” said Taj Hassan, special commissioner of police (traffic).

Traffic police receive 3,000 to 4,000 complaints of refusals by autorickshaw drivers every month. To deal with the menace, from October, they started slapping heftier fines on the drivers: Rs. 2,000 for the first offence and Rs. 5,000 for repeat offence.