Your chances of finding an autorickshaw with an electronic meter have improved over the past months. Nearly 25% of the one lakh autorickshaws on city streets are now fitted with electronic meters that are tougher to tamper with than conventional mechanical meters.
Transport authorities made it mandatory for all autorickshaws that applied for registration or for renewal of the annual driving permit after March to have an electronic meter. By the end of August, e-meters had been installed in 27,435 autorickshaws. April 2013 is the deadline for all rickshaws within the city to install e-meters.
An RTO official said commuters have also shown a preference for rickshaws with electronic meters. E-meters show the exact fare and the distance travelled, and there is little scope for manipulation. “When I take a rickshaw with an e-meter, the fare is always a few rupees less than what it is when I take one with a mechanical meter. Whenever I am not in a hurry, I prefer to wait for rickshaws with e-meters,” said Andheri resident Payal Shah.
However, auto unions are not buying these claims yet. “We haven’t observed any such difference [in commuter preference] yet,” said Thumpi Kurian, general secretary of the Mumbai Automen’s Union. He suggested that transport authorities have taken action against autorickshaws whose e-meters were defective, but were yet to act against those who manufactured these meters. In July, RTO officials had found four cases of e-meter tampering. The transport department then sent random samples of all e-metes to Maharashtra Institute of Technology (MIT), Pune, for testing. Acting on the MIT report, the transport department imposed a two-month ban on a particular model of electronic meter as some serious technical issues surfaced during the retest. Now, the transport department asked the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, to develop hardware and software for e-meters.