The drive launched by transport authorities against auto drivers for refusing fares and for tampering meters has not made any difference outside the Andheri (west) railway station, where drivers continue to fleece commuters by forcing them to opt for share-autos and collecting full fares from each of the three commuters in an auto.
People who want to take an auto from the station to Veera Desai Road or Laxmi Industrial Estate on Link Road are charged Rs 40 or more, and have to share the auto with two other passengers. By meter, the fare would come to between Rs 30 and Rs 40.
“Commuters are charged exorbitantly, but auto drivers refuse to go by meter on these routes and force us to share autos.
They charge more than Rs 50 to go to Laxmi Industrial Estate,” said Manoj Punmiya, 32, a businessman from Dadar who travels to these parts of Andheri regularly.
A commercial hub, these areas are not close to the station and have many offices, institutes, malls and restaurants. Commuters claim the auto drivers are the most exploitative during peak hours in the morning when people are pressed for time.
“Both the above destinations are commercially active and auto drivers take advantage of this and charge office-goers exorbitantly in the morning. At times, they ask for Rs 60 to got o Laxmi Industrial Estate, when the meter fare actually comes to only Rs 40,” said Mohammad Afzal, who goes to Laxmi Industrial Estate daily. Commuters complain that these drivers also mislead people by claiming that the meter fare would come up to Rs 60 and that opting for share-autos would be better.
Rajendra Chavan, senior inspector, traffic, DN Nagar police station, said: “We have been taking action against errant drivers for a one-and-a-half months every morning and evening. The drivers behave properly and charge as per meter when our constables are around. Maybe in their absence, the drivers are troubling the public.”
The DN Nagar traffic police have distributed 1,000 complaint cards among passengers so they have the phone number to call up and complain. “Passengers just have to mention the auto number on the card. With the help of the RTO, we take action against these auto drivers,” said Chavan.