Commuters and transport experts have expressed discontent at the Mumbai Autorickshaw Men's Union’s opposition to the introduction of electronic meters in the city’s auto rickshaws.
The transport department had decided to initiate the process of making electronic meters compulsory for autorickshaws, after receiving several complaints from commuters on meters being tampered to show higher fares. The state also set up a committee to discuss the matter and a final report is awaited.
However, the move did not go down too well with the union. In a press conference held on May 6, the union, which has more than 95,000 members, questioned the transport department about the cost and maintenance of these meters. They also claimed that electronic meters were not tamper-proof.
Presently, the fleet of Meru cabs, cool cabs and other private taxis use electronic meters.
Nikhil Desai, a resident of King’s Circle said, “Electronic meter reading ensures accuracy in fare prices. They should be made mandatory for auto rickshaws as soon as possible.”
“Mechanical meters run faster than electronic meters do, especially in old autorickshaws. I pay at least Rs10 more than what I should be paying,” said Alekh Angre, a media professional from Chembur.
Transports experts suggested that the department start a pilot project to find out how the issue could be rectified. “Electronic meters are working well in taxis. The transport department can install them in a few autorickshaws as part of a pilot project which can test these meters for a few days,” said Rishi Agarwal, a city-based transport expert.
Sharad Rao, union president said, “Electronic meters cannot be covered and therefore cannot be protected from rains, heat and fluctuating weather conditions. Plus, there is no service centre in the city. How can the transport department expect drivers to bear the cost of purchase and maintenance of electronic meters without any help?”
To this, Dilip Jadhav, state transport commissioner replied, “The union’s observations and allegations lack basis. Why they are opposing the use of electronic meters when autorickshaws in other cities have already installed them? They must be installed.”