MUMBAI: Commuter rights activists say RTOs should impose stringent
penalty on errant auto and taxi drivers and ensure that citizens get quality
service. They say people want existing electronic meters to be replaced
with GPS enabled meters which would give exact fares as per journey
distance and time.
“Commuters pay hefty fares. They deserve a ride in a vehicle that is in good condition with a proper meter and not be refused
for short-distance routes,” said activist A V Shenoy.
Amember of Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union blamed the menace on illegal share autos, which carry four to five commuters
instead of three. “They ply mainly in Andheri, Jogeshwari and Borivli. Cartels of drivers—also referred to as ‘auto mafia’—exist in
Kurla, Bandra, including Bandra Terminus and LTT, and airport areas. Many of them have ‘ghoda meters’ (which run fast and
show inflated fares)
State transport commissioner Shekhar Channe, who travels by auto and taxi occasionally, said he has taken a serious view of
all complaints. He has directed RTOs to treat commuter grievances on priority.
Defending the cabbies, taxi union leader A L Quadros said, “Kaali-peeli taxis have been serving commuters for several
decades. They operate within the framework of transport regulations and there are not many cases of overcharging or fare
refusal.” Auto union leader Shashank Rao, however, admitted there were rogue drivers in the trade and said his union will help
RTOs in weeding them out.
Autos have become a pain for many commuters who just keep requesting one driver after another for a ride. “They have PSVA
(public services vehicle authorization) badges and they are duty-bound to ferry every passenger without asking any questions,”
said Suchitra Dey, a regular auto commuter from Thakur Complex, Kandivli. But drivers said that at times, they have
emergencies such as filling up fuel, returning home or taking a break for food or answering nature’s call, which is when they