Chief minister Prithiviraj Chavan decided on Sunday that all autos plying on city roads must have electronic meters.
The decision comes as a relief to Mumbaiites who have been fleeced for years by auto drivers who tamper with the mechanical meters.
Chavan, who heads the transport department, is also actively considering permitting auto tariff hikes once every two years. The announcement was made a day before the auto tariff hike comes into effect.
"The installation of electronic meters will reduce commuter complaints," said Chavan, in a statement issued after a meeting with auto unions on Sunday.
It's more difficult to tamper with electronic meters than with the mechanical ones. According to an official from the Regional Transport Office, which has been conducting a drive against tampered meters since three weeks, at least 70% of the auto meters are tampered with.
It costs Rs 70 to Rs 150 to get a meter tampered with, after which the fare goes up by Rs 1.5 to Rs 2 per km.
Now, all new autos will roll out with electronic meters, while the old ones will have to fit them before they get their next fitness certificate, which is issued annually.
It's likely that in the next one year, all autos in the city will start running on electronic meters.
Transport expert Ashok Datar said: "The electronic meters are commuter-friendly and more transparent in operation." Commuters are happy with the move. "I will know that what I am paying is the actual amount. There will be no overcharging," said Nirav Manek, a media associate.
Commuters have lately faced disruptions because of the fuss kicked up by auto unions over the RTO's drive against meter tampering and the installation of electronic meters.
On Sunday, all unions agreed to install electronic meters, including Sharad Rao's union - the city's biggest auto union - which had earlier opposed it.
Rao's union is unhappy with the plan to hike tariff only once in two years. "Although the CM said there will be a hike every two years, we will try to get a hike once a year," said Shashank Rao, assistant general secretary of the Mumbai Auto Rickshaw Men's union.
"There will be no intermediate hike for reasons such as fuel price hike, if the regular hikes are sanctioned," said transport commissioner VN More. The state has decided to check whether electronic meters can be tampered with. A technical committee will study the new meters.