Auto meters yet to be recalibrated with new fares, leads to confusion
It has been more than two weeks since auto-rickshaw fares in the national capital were increased by 18.75%. But the Delhi government is yet to start re-calibrating the meters of autorickshaws.
Most passengers and autorickshaw drivers said the delay is leading to confusion. While a section of drivers have started keeping a chart of the new fares to show passengers, those who don’t end up having an argument with customers. In all this, some passengers even complained of auto drivers fleecing them citing increased fares, traffic officials said.
The new rates came into effect on June 18, after a public notice was issued by the state transport authority. Under the revised rates, the meter down charge will be ₹25 for the first 1.5km, instead of existing 2km. The per kilometre charge has been increased from the existing ₹8 to ₹9.5, which is a hike of around 18.75%. The notification introduces waiting charge at the rate of ₹0.75 per minute if an auto is caught up at a traffic signal. Luggage charges and night charges have been kept the same.
When HT sought the status of the meter recalibration process, the transport, and the weights and measures departments of the Delhi government pinned the blame on each other. “The recalibration work is not done by us. The weights and measures department has to do it along with testing the meters,” a senior transport department official said.
The weights and measures department, on the other hand, said it is yet to receive the schedule from the transport department. “The schedule specifies the order in which the auto meters are to be recalibrated. The order is decided on the basis of registration series. After the meters are updated, each auto will undergo a test. This test includes riding the auto on a 1km stretch to see if the new meter reading is being shown by the device,” AK Mishra, controller of the department, said.
In response to this, the transport department later said it will soon issue a schedule. Delhi has about 95,000 registered auto-rickshaws and officials, on condition of anonymity, said the recalibration process could take up to six months.
“The recalibration of meters will be done in the department’s taxi-meter unit in West Delhi’s Rewla Khanpur. The unit has a capacity to calibrate and test a maximum of 200 autorickshaws per day. So, it wtill take a few months for the process to be completed,” an official said.
Meanwhile, commuters continue to face a tough time not just with drivers denying journeys to certain destinations but also charging way higher than the fare. “I had a fight with an auto driver yesterday because he was charging me ₹70 for a distance of just 5km. Earlier, I used to travel the same distance for ₹50,” Taru Taneja (24), a beautician, said. As per the new rates, an auto journey of 5km should cost ₹58.25 instead of the previous ₹49.
Auto driver Ajmal, who goes by his first name, asked where the new rate charts are being provided. “My fellow drivers and I have been wanting the chart. The transport department should provide these charts at kiosks so we can charge accordingly until the meters are updated. Passengers will also believe us then,” he said.