No more taking customers ‘for a ride’, Uttarakhand set to meter auto fare

Transport minister Yashpal Arya is ‘determined’ to install fare meters in over 5,000 autos

dehradun Updated: Jan 18, 2018 22:37 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times, Dehradun
Uttarakhand news,Congress,BJP government
As per official records, more than 2,300 autos are registered in Dehradun alone.(AP PHOTO)

Proposed by a Congress minister and put on backburner by his successor in the previous government, the plan to install fare meters in auto-rickshaws has once again been revived by the BJP government.

Transport minister Yashpal Arya has mooted the plan and is “determined” to install the fare meters in over 5000 petrol and diesel-run autos plying their services in districts such as Dehradun, Haridwar, Haldwani, Rudrapur, and other parts of the Terai belt.

“We are working to ensure this system gets in place. It is because of the irregularities in setting fare by the privately run autos that taxi and auto service aggregators such as Ola and Uber have managed to penetrate into this sector in state,” Arya said.

Anyone who has travelled by the three-seater autos in Uttarakhand would vouch for the fact in the absence meters, the auto drivers often take the commuters for a ride, literally. The three-seater autos mostly run on hire basis and the drivers demand fare as per their own whims and fancy. It depends a lot on the bargaining power of the commuter if he or she can strike a deal that won’t pinch their pocket.

“For a mere 2 km ride, an auto driver demanded Rs 180 from me,” said Akshay Bansal, a resident of Race Course in Dehradun.

Commuters say that the situation worsens during nights when the ‘pre-paid’ booths at the railway station and the ISBT remain shut. “Taking an auto at night is like offering yourself to robbers. I had to catch a train to Delhi at night and the auto driver demanded Rs 300. This when my house is barely one kilometer away from the station,” said Col (Retd) SK Joshi, a resident of Chandan Nagar.

As per official records, more than 2,300 autos are registered in Doon alone. Residents, however, claim that the number would be higher many autos are plying illegally in want of a proper check mechanism by the government.

It was to end this illegal business and to bring transparency in fare mechanism that the then transport minister in previous Congress government Surendra Rakesh mooted the proposal to install fare meters in the three-wheelers. Rakesh died of cancer in 2015, following which Nav Prabhat took charge of the department in 2016. However, “due to lack of time”, considering that assembly elections were announced to be held in February 2017, he couldn’t take up the project.

Now, the BJP government has revived the plan to regulate the auto-rickshaws and the fare mechanism, a move that has not gone down well with the auto rickshaw owners.

“The geographic condition of Uttarakhand is not favourable for meter system. Unlike Delhi, where traffic is well managed, there’s high congestion in cities like Dehradun, Haridwar and Haldwani. If the government tries to bring this system then we will stage a protest,” said Uma Naresh Tiwari of Doon Autorickshaw Union.

Uttar Pradesh, out of which Uttarakhand was carved out, had in 2012 made fare meters mandatory in auto-rickshaws.

In Delhi, the auto charge Rs 25 for first fall of 2 kilometres upon downing the meter and thereafter Rs 8 per km for every additional kilometre. A commuter has to pay additional 25 per cent of the total fare as night charge that is applicable for rides taken between 11PM to 5AM.

The same rates are applicable in the areas of Uttar Pradesh that fall in the national capital region (NCR).

First Published: Jan 18, 2018 20:30 IST