As fares of autorickshaws and taxis have increased, so have the complaints against errant drivers. And the majority of complaints are about drivers refusing to ply.
The number of complaints lodged by commuters against errant auto and taxi drivers has almost doubled, after transport authorities hiked tariffs from October 11.
Compared to August and September, complaints lodged via the helpline at regional transport offices (RTOs) in Wadala (that covers the eastern suburbs) and Tardeo (south Mumbai) have drastically increased in October. In August and September the total number of complaints registered at the Wadala RTO was 87 and 78 respectively.
But in October it jumped to 159, which included 110 refusals, 35 complaints for excess fare and 14 for rude behaviour. At the Tardeo RTO, too, complaints rose from 40 in August to 59 in October (see box). However, at the Andheri RTO (that covers the western suburbs) the number of complaints has dropped.
“The fare hike will not change the arrogant attitude of drivers. For that, action is required and we are taking it. In October, we had registered 800 cases for offences such as lack of fitness, no tariff card or usage of photocopies of cards. Commuters can also play an active role and file refusal complaints against drivers,” said Madhukar Jadhav, central regional transport officer.
Commuters are not sure if their complaints are being addressed. “We are not aware of what action is taken on the driver after our complaint. Authorities can at least send us some confirmation via email. What is the point of paying so much when we do not get better services in return?” said Anita Menon, 36, a resident of Colaba.
But Vikas Pandkar, a regional transport officer from the eastern suburbs said, “Once a complaint is registered, action against the driver is taken. We send them a show-cause notice. If they don’t reply, they are penalised when they come to us for a permit, licence renewal or fitness.”
While commuters blamed arrogant drivers, unions claimed refusals are because of a shortage of vehicles. “The existing 35,000 taxis are insufficient to cater to the growing number of commuters in the city,” said AL Quadros, general secretary, Mumbai Taximen’s Union. However, Shashank Rao, assistant general secretary, Mumbai
Autorickshawmen’s Union said there should be no refusals and action should be taken against such drivers.