The much-awaited autorickshaw service for inter-state movement in the National Capital Region (NCR) has garnered a poor response as only 45 drivers from Noida have applied for permits since it was launched.
As per the inter-state agreement for the movement of autorickshaws in NCR, the Regional Transport Office (RTO) in Ghaziabad has to issue 2,000 permits each from Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad.
Transport minister Durga Prasad Yadav had launched the NCR autorickshaw service in Noida and Ghaziabad on February 15. This let auto-drivers, for the first time, cross the border and take passengers directly to Delhi.
Autorickshaw drivers in the city said the reason behind the initial lukewarm response was disparity in the fares of NCR autorickshaws and those running in Delhi.
“The fare of NCR autorickshaws was lower than that in Delhi. However, the transport department revised the fare to bring it on par with that being charged in Delhi on April 9. But there are other factors as well that discourage autorickshaw drivers to opt for NCR permits,” said Anuj Kumar Gupta, an NCR autorickshaw driver.
The additional financial burden for making autos conform to the specifications for NCR service such as GPS and other paraphernalia for identification discourages the applicants. The fact that the permits would be non-transferrable for a period of five years except in the event of death of the permit holder deters many applicants.
Assistant road transport officer(enforcement) of Gautam Budh Nagar, Rachna Yaduvanshi, admitted that the response has not been great. “I do not know the exact reason but certainly autorickshaw drivers are not coming forward for NCR permit," she said.
Currently, autorickshaws running in Gautam Budh Nagar do not ply by the meter and do not have facilities such as identification badges for the drivers and GPS, for passenger safety.
The NCR autorickshaw service would make the commute between Delhi and Gautam Budh Nagar easier by putting a check on overcharging of commuters by autorickshaw drivers on the route.
“While the autorickshaws from Noida were not allowed to ply in Delhi, the auto-rickshaw drivers from Delhi going to Noida would overcharge passengers on the pretext that the traffic cops in Gautam Budh Nagar harassed them for entry in Noida. They never plied by the meter and always negotiated a higher fare for coming to Noida,” said Nidhi Singh, a resident of Sector 50.
Interestingly, no autorickshaw stands have been designated for NCR autorickshaws and toll-free booking service has not been provided yet.
When asked whether any meeting was held with the representatives of the autorickshaw drivers’ union to find out the reason behind such poor response, Yaduvanshi said, “Not to my knowledge. The permits are issued by the RTO, Ghaziabad, and we only register NCR autorickshaws if the applicants are from Noida.”