New meters to be tamper-proof, will have printers and panic buttons for women

The transport department has sent the technical specifications for autorickshaw meters fitted with GPS devices, for government approval. These meters are expected to be distributed to autorickshaw drivers by mid-2014.

According to officials, the new meters will be tamper-proof, and will be able to store data. With the GPS, the exact location of the autorickshaw can be identified at any time. Besides, the meters will have panic buttons for the benefit of women passengers, as well as a printer for receipts.

Once the government gives the green signal, the transport department will float tenders to select a company which will distribute the meters. The devices will be sent to all regional transport offices (RTO) and camps will be held in their respective jurisdictions to distribute them to auto drivers.

“To ensure that the meter has been given in good condition, a signature will be obtained from the drivers. We are planning to hold the camps by April next year,” said an official at the transport department.

A control room, set up to monitor the movement of the autorickshaws with GPS meters, is expected to be jointly monitored by the transport department and the traffic police.

In September, a 13-member committee was set up comprising officials of the transport commissionerate, Elcot (Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu), the finance department, traffic police, controller of weights and measures and professors from Anna University and IIT-Madras to look into the feasibility of installing GPS meters in autorickshaws.

“The committee decided on the technical specifications of the meter,” said the official.

Overcharging continues

Though RTOs across the city are conducting regular checks to identify autorickshaws that charge excess fares or run without meters, passengers complain that they continue to be fleeced by some drivers, especially those outside malls, railway stations and the Chennai Moffusil Bus Terminus.

Transport department officials said they have received 1,500 complaints of overcharging so far. “This is just a fraction of the actual number of passengers who are fleeced every day. To date around 56,000 autorickshaws in the city have installed recalibrated meters,” the official said.

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