Two days after commuters pulled off the ‘Meter Jam’ campaign, the state transport department has responded by initiating a drive against taxi and auto drivers who refuse fares.
The drive will begin once the department identifies areas in the city where the problem is rampant, based on citizens' complaints.
“We will soon start a campaign against auto rickshaw and taxi drivers who refuse short distance fares. I have received several complaints from my officers and the public about such behaviour by drivers,” said Dilip Jadhav, transport commissioner.
“The unions (auto and taxi) shouldn't take this campaign lightly and should improve the services offered to the public.”
The RTO has already received more than 3,000 complaints on the helpline it launched in June.
The drive is expected to begin by the end of the month.
An officer from the Regional Transport Office (RTO) said that they know that areas such as Andheri, Ghatkopar, Bandra, Dadar and Borivali generate the most complaints. “But we want to make sure of this before we begin the crackdown.” Officers from the transport department will patrol these areas to pull up errant drivers.
The Meter Jam campaign came as a wake-up call for the government, and the public response it garnered also compelled Home Minister R.R. Patil to step in with assurances to resolve the problem.
Unions had their defence. “We are aware that drivers refuse fares. But they only do so when they are physically exhausted, heading in the other direction or when there isn't enough fuel,” said A.L. Quadros, general secretary of the Bombay Taximen’s Union.
Meanwhile, the transport department will also initiate a separate etiquette classes for the drivers in which they will be taught the need for good behaviour and the consequences of refusing fares.
A thousand drivers are to be trained every month at the Mumbai Central RTO.