Delhi government’s ambitious plan to launch “auto-on-demand” service may not see the light of day.
Succumbing to the pressure created by several auto-rickshaw unions, the government has decided to reduce the price of the installation of global positioning system (GPS) devices in autorickshaws by nearly half.
Senior Delhi government officials said setting up a call centre and providing two-way communication systems to autorickshaws accounted for almost half of the monthly
GPS charges that auto-rickshaw owners will have to pay to the company providing GPS system.
“If the price and recurring cost of GPS has to be brought down, the only option is to do away with the call centre facility, which we are required to run and name call-an-auto facility. Auto-rickshaw unions also seem okay with this,” said a senior Delhi government official requesting anonymity.
Auto-rickshaw unions had threatened to go on two-day strike against the transport department’s demand of Rs 15,000 to install GPS devices in autorickshaws.
Interestingly, when the Delhi government had increased auto fares in June 2010, it was by another Rs 0.50 per kilometre, so that auto-rickshaw owners save the money for six months and then pay for GPS device s from that amount.
The clause was also included in the notification dated June 23, 2010, which stipulated auto-rickshaw fare as R19 for the first two kilometres and R6.50 for every additional kilometre.
The notification including Rs 0.50 charges for GPS/GPRS/control room and despatch centres for facilitating autorickshaws on demand.
Delhi transport minister Arvinder Singh, however, said no final decision has been taken in this regard.
“I have asked the transport department to work out the financial plan, if we exclude autorickshaws on demand service.
If the difference in cost is huge, we may do away with auto-on-demand facility,” Singh said.
The minister, however, added that various other facilities, which are of more concern to a passenger — including tracking of autorickshaws, panic buttons for security of passengers and printed receipts — would still be provided.
“Auto-on-demand is an additional, value-added facility, which was an after-thought. Our prime concern is providing safe and secure transit to Delhiites,” Singh said.