Three years ago when the Delhi Government increased the auto-rickshaw fares, it had included a component that would help the auto owners to meet the cost of installation of a Global Positioning System (GPS) system in their vehicles. It was then stated that GPS would ensure greater safety for the passengers. But till date the system has not become operational. Repeated assurances from the Government notwithstanding, people are yet to experience the benefits of this technological aid.
The GPS was meant to be installed in all the auto-rickshaws and was expected to provide real time data on the location of autos across the city through a server operated by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) from its Control Room at ISBT Kashmere Gate.
However, the progress has been slow to say the least. “As of June 14, GPS has already been installed in 20,423 auto-rickshaws. These are all new vehicles and the signals from them are being received at the Control Room,” said a DIMTS spokesperson.
But beyond this, the system is yet to function. So even if some passenger were to use the emergency button on the auto, it would only send an alert to the Control Room but there would be no action on it.
In light of this, Delhi Transport Minister Ramakant Goswami had in a meeting about a fortnight ago directed the Transport Department, DIMTS and Delhi Police to coordinate their activities for operationalising GPS in autos. “The modalities of the system are now being worked out. We provide the software and the backend operations for gathering the information, but it is the Transport and Traffic departments which will have to monitor the system and ensure a response,” said the DIMTS spokesperson.
With about 50,000 old auto-rickshaws yet to be equipped with GPS, which costs around Rs.13,500 to install, and the agencies involved yet to show an inclination towards making another monitoring mechanism operations, commuters will for some more time have to continue to live without the luxury of an emergency button at their disposal, merely pressing which would ensure a quick response from a nearby police patrol.