Complaints about auto drivers charging excess fares have reduced drastically at the Andheri Regional Transport Office (RTO) since authorities started installing e-meters in March, according to officials.
More than 17, 700 autorickshaws including new and old were fitted with e-meters between March 1 to August 31, This is about a third of the number of registered 53,000 autorickshaws in western suburbs.
Transport officials said the e-meters have greatly reduced cases of excess fare: not a single such case has been detected between April 1 – August 31, while 284 such cases were detected between April 2011 and March 2012.
The transport department has made e-meters mandatory for all autorickshaws from April 1.
“Both confirmed cases and complaints about autorickshaws charging excess fare have decreased since e-meter installation started on March 1. Every new auto is fitting with an e-meter, after which it is taken to a test track and examined for a distance of 3 km. The digital meter is then sealed. Old autos are supposed to install e-meters at the time of annual fitness certification. About 350-400 old autos get certified every day at our office,” said a senior RTO official, requesting anonymity.
The complaints to the RTO regarding excess fare, faulty meters and auto drivers refusing to ferry customers have decreased to 411 (between April 2012-August 2012), from 2409 in the 2011-12 financial year.
“It’s huge relief,” said Aftab Siddique, 45, a teacher living in Bandra. “We are able to see the difference between fares in electronic meters and mechanical meters. While the fare from Vile Parle to Bandra used to be around Rs40 in mechanical meters, it is just Rs32 according to e-meters.”
However, some commuters complained that they hardly see autorickshaws with e-meters. “Only about a tenth of the autos plying here have digital meters. Most of the autos are plying with mechanical meters and such meters are usually faulty, as can be seen from their broken seals. The RTO should enforce the e-meter rule more stringently,” said Mohammad Afzal, 49, transport activist and Andheri resident.