At at least three prominent spots in the city, the share-an-auto scheme, propped up by auto unions as a solution to fare refusals and overcharging, has become a means to fleece commuters, who are being forced to share rides for full meter fare.
Following complaints by readers, an Hindustan Times reporter visited the spots, all of which are much-frequented share-auto stands outside railway stations — at Gazadar Road in Andheri (West), Station road in Kurla (West), and Kurla (East).
At Andheri railway station, passengers are charged Rs40-80 per seat to reach Veera Desai road, Laxmi Industrial estate, Lokhandwala Mhada Colony, Versova, Yari road, Lokhandwala Complex, Four Bungalows and Seven Bungalows.
“None of the auto drivers were ready to go by meter to Lokhandwala Mhada Colony. I was told to carry my 10-year-old daughter on lap so that one more passenger can be accommodated. I insisted on going by meter but they refused outright,” said Sumita Deshpande, Versova resident.
Similar incidents are also a norm at the other two locations. In Kurla (West), passengers are charged Rs20-30 per seat for BKC and the family court, for where the meter fare also comes up to Rs30. At Kurla (East) railway station, not only do the autos have no meters installed, they charge Rs20 a seat to go to Lokmanya Tilak Terminus.
“I was ready to pay Rs100 instead of going Rs20 per seat as I had a lot of luggage, but was still forced to share,” said Sheetal Ghosh, a Kolkata resident who arrived in Mumbai recently.
When contacted, Rajendra Chavan, senior inspector of DN Nagar police station’s traffic arm, said, “We have been taking continuous action against errant drivers since the last one-and-a-half months, in the morning and evening. We have also distributed complaint cards among passengers on the railway stations. People facing problems should submit these cards, along with details of the autorickshaws at our beat offices and we will take the action.”
Vikas Pandkar from the Wadala regional transport office said, “We will conduct checks at these spots and if an offence is found, necessary action will be initiated. People can also complain on our toll-free number to report such incidents.”