Despite a fare hike of Re1 for minimum distance many auto drivers in the city are not happy. They complain that they would have to shell out more than Rs500 immediately - for calibration of the newly installed electronic meters.
On Friday, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Transport Authority (MMRTA) hiked minimum auto fare from Rs11 to Rs12. The revised tariff will come into effect from April 20.
For autos fitted with a mechanical meter, drivers just have to procure new tariff cards printed by regional transport offices (RTO). But drivers of autos with electronic meter have to get them calibrated from the respective companies.
There are around 1.08 lakh auto rickshaws in the city. The state government has made electronic meters mandatory for newly registering autos from the beginning of March and for old autos from April 1. Around 600 autos have been fitted with electronic meters including new and old ones.
As a result, auto owners and drivers e-meter fitted autos are less happy about the fare hike and more concerned more concerned about calibration. "I spent 3,000 rupees for installing an electronic meter 10 days ago. From where should I now bring the money for its calibration. I already have to pay loan instalments," said PR Chavan, an auto driver from Ghatkopar.
"In the last one and a half month's time, 315 autos have been fitted with electronic meters. This number is around 250 in case of Wadala RTO," said a senior RTO official. "It will be mandatory for them to calibrate their electronic meters."
The hike will put unnecessary financial burden on poor auto drivers. They are going to request transport authorities that don't force auto drivers for e-meter calibration. "Auto fare has gone up by 1 rupee for first stage only. There will be no need of calibration if government allows them to charge one rupee more than fare shown on meters' display. We are going to request transport authorities for this," said Thampy Kurian, Vice president of Mumbai Rickshawmens' Union.