More than a year after the women-only pink auto service was proposed but failed to take off due to poor response from autorickshaw drivers, the Ghaziabad police have taken matter in their own hands and launched 20 pink autos on Tuesday after consultation with the auto union.
The first fleet of 20 autos, with pink coloured hood for unique identification under the scheme, was flagged off from the Harsaon police lines. Auto drivers have been directed to operate from four heavily frequented public places -- metro stations at Vaishali and Kaushambi, Old bus stand and Ghaziabad railway station -- for the convenience of women commuters.
“The service was pending for long and is much needed for women passengers. Each driver is verified by the Ghaziabad police. They will adhere to the proper dress code and will carry the identification card provided by the police. Inside the auto, the driver’s name, registration number and other details will be made available. Women can send the picture of these details to their family when they board autos,” KS Emmanuel, senior superintendent of police (SSP) at Ghaziabad, said.
“Even the police emergency and helpline numbers are painted on the auto, along with marking of ‘Ladies Special’ for unique identification on the roads,” the SSP said.
The need for women-only autos was strengthened after Dipti Sarna, a Snapdeal executive from Ghaziabad, was abducted by five men in an autorickshaw near the Hindon on February 10. She had boarded an auto outside the Vaishali Metro station but the abductors made her switch vehicles.
“Strict action will be taken if men board these women-only autos. Men will only be allowed to sit if they are accompanied by women and hire the auto from the stand to the destination point. In case women are travelling on a shared basis, men will not be allowed to board the vehicle at all. The autos will drop women passengers to their destinations,” Rajesh Kumar, superintendent of police (traffic), said.
Although the police started the pink auto facility on Tuesday, the autos did not have fare meters installed. This will yet again prove to be a hassle for women commuters. A majority of autos in Ghaziabad do not ply by the fare meters and charge ambiguous rates.
Even when hired on a shared basis, auto drivers charge anything between Rs. 7 and Rs. 20. At present, only the NCR-autos ply by the meter and prescribed tariff.
However, the SP said that these autorickshaws will ply by the tariff prescribed by the government.
Since the service was initiated by the Ghaziabad police, officials have also instructed the traffic police and the police stations concerned to pay special attention to these vehicles on road.
As per directions from the state transport officials, the pink autos will get preference for refueling at CNG pumps and will even get preference in parking lots at the designated spots. The directions were issued as part of the pink auto scheme by UP transport commissioner, K Ravinder Naik, in June 2015.
According to the directions, if new permits cannot be issued, the transport department can allow existing autorickshaws in good condition to be plied as pink autos.