While the government is keen on making the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR) a unified area for plying autos and taxis, the transport department is probably doing the opposite.
The department has launched separate helplines for addressing commuters' grievances despite the fact that residents of MMR travel through two or three cities such as Thane, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai daily.
Thus, if the commuters want to lodge a complaint, they will have to remember more than one helpline number. Citizens across the state are facing difficulties due to these toll-free helpline numbers based on multiple Interactive Voice Response System (IVRS).
Presently, the transport department has 8 active toll-free helpline numbers for different Regional Transport Offices (RTO) in the state. The helplines are mainly for cities like Mumbai, Thane, Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad, Nanded, Nagpur city and Kolhapur. Even these helpline numbers are not serialised and are different from each other.
The transport department also wants to add 5 more IVRS based helplines. "Proposal for setting helpline numbers at Amravati, Dhule, Latur, Nagpur rural and Panvel is pending," said a transport department official, on the condition of anonymity.
The basic purpose of these toll-free helplines was to provide an easy platform for citizens to register their complaints about public transport vehicles, specially auto rickshaws and taxis. But citizens face problems when they travel from one city to another since there are separate helplines for each city.
According to sources, the department started its first helpline number (1800-22-0110) in Mumbai from June 2010. Within the same year, it started helplines in other cities too. The transport commissioner offices spend around Rs3 lakh on each of these helplines. Thus, till date it has spent around Rs25 lakh on these helplines. Experts feel that the department could have developed a more advanced system for just Rs5 lakh with a single helpline number.