Transport dept. intensifies enforcement; grievance redressal committee formed

After a lull, the State transport department has once again started cracking down on autorickshaw drivers who do not charge by the meter.

Around 120 licences have been cancelled over the past few months, say senior transport department officials.

“While some of the 120 drivers had not installed meters, some were guilty of overcharging. We have received over 1,000 such complaints till date through our helplines,” said a senior transport department official.

Last year, after a gap of six years, the State government revised the autorickshaw fares in the city. The fare for the first 1.8 kilometre is Rs. 25 and Rs. 12 for every additional kilometre. The autorickshaw drivers were given a couple of months to recalibrate the existing meters to the new fares. After this, the transport department started cracking down on erring drivers.

However, commuters feel enforcement has decreased over the past one month. “Many drivers have started bargaining, especially for short distances. They refuse to turn on the meters. Some of them demand Rs. 10 or Rs. 20 in addition to the meter charge,” said K. Gangadharan, a senior citizen residing in Velachery.

Senior transport department officials agree. “We have intensified enforcement again. A grievance redressal committee has been formed to track complaints pertaining to auto fares. It will meet every week to discuss the number of complaints and the action that has been taken,” said a senior official.

Representatives of autorickshaw unions concede that some drivers continue to overcharge passengers. “This mainly happens outside railway stations and shopping malls. No transport official or traffic policeman checks the autos,” said a driver.

Meanwhile, many drivers still have a bone to pick with illegal share autorickshaws. “The transport department is not cracking down on them. Many contract carriages function as stage carriages. It should be regulated,” said J. Seshasayanam, general secretary of the Madras Metro Auto Drivers Association

He said the State government should immediately provide GPS meters and form a committee to regulate the fares as and when fuel prices increase.

“If this is not done drivers will continue to fleece passengers,” he said.

A senior transport department official said they would start cracking down on share autorickshaws, too.

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