Enforcement will be the decisive factor in the success of the new tariff system for autorickshaws. And, a day after the revised rates hit the road, the transport department has introduced services to stop attempts to bypass the rule.
Two temporary helplines – 24749002 and 26744445 – have been set up for commuters to lodge complaints against auto drivers who are reluctant to turn on the meters.
“These helplines will be in force till a dedicated control room with a complaint cell, under the transport department, is established,” said a senior transport official.
At present, auto drivers are allowed to use the old meters set to the outdated tariff. However, the department has released a conversion chart that will help the driver and commuter calculate the new fares over specific distances.
“For instance, if the meter reading shows Rs.14 for two kilometres, the commuter has to pay around Rs. 27.40; similarly, when the meter indicates Rs. 68 for 11 kilometres, Rs. 135.40 has to be paid,” said a senior transport official.
“This conversion chart is available at the transport department’s website. We will be publishing it in the newspapers too. Auto drivers are expected to paste this chart inside and in the rear part of their autos. If a driver does not charge a passenger according to this chart, the latter can call any of the two helplines,” the senior official said.
The conversion chart serves as a temporary prop till the autorickshaw drivers reset their meters to the new tariff system. October 15 is the deadline for the auto drivers to recalibrate their meters.
Considering that 70,000 autorickshaws ply on city roads but only 42 mechanics are available to recalibrate the meters, this is not going to be an easy deadline to meet. “We are scouting for more technicians in the other districts of the state. Mechanics in the city who are willing to offer their services are also welcome to contact the respective Regional Transport Offices (RTO),” said the official.
He said that after October 15, autorickshaw drivers can present their vehicles for fitness tests only with recalibrated meters.
Meanwhile, RTOs are holding meetings with auto drivers in their jurisdiction to scale up the awareness about revised fares and the importance of following the meter system.
“Initially, we will check to see if drivers follow the new tariff. If they don’t, we will warn them. But, once the tariff cards are printed and stuck on the vehicle, we will start seizing the vehicles and cancelling the permits,” said another transport official.
The traffic police are also gearing up for the change. “The entire force will be mobilised to conduct checks and impose fines, whenever necessary,” said a traffic police officer.
Autorickshaw unions welcomed the fact that the new meter system will help weed out autorickshaws that run without permits. “There is a plan to give identity cards to the drivers. To get the ID and tariff cards, the drivers will have to produce their permits. This procedure will ensure that those who run the vehicle illegally, without permits, will be go off the roads,” said J. Seshasayanam, general secretary of the Madras Metro Auto Drivers Association.