Residents may soon see an end to one of the biggest irritants to commuting in the city — haggling over autorickshaw fares.
The transport department is studying various models of meters for autorickshaws, and has zeroed in on two models — one, a GPS-based system and the other, a model that will give the commuter a print-out of the fare.
A source said that the department is determined to implement the meter system soon. “We are studying various models to find out which would be the most beneficial for commuters. The meters also have to be tamper-proof,” he said.
Since the GPS-based meters are expensive, they can only be installed on a voluntary basis. “The advantage of these meters is that the autorickshaw can be tracked, and it is safer for passengers. Also, these meters cannot be tampered with,” the source said.
He added that autorickshaws run by various entrepreneurs could have these meters. “As these vehicles are part of a business enterprise, a control room could be set up to monitor them. It is not possible for the average autorickshaw driver to fix a GPS-based meter,” he said.
The other type of meter that the department is studying, the one that can give print-outs, is relatively less expensive. “These devices cost Rs. 4, 000, and are more affordable for autorickshaw drivers,” the source said.
However, representatives of autorickshaw unions said the government should provide them the meters free of cost. There are over 65,000 autorickshaws in the city and nearly 2 lakh in the State.
“Just recently many drivers had electronic meters installed. They cannot afford to get new meters fixed again,” said J. Seshasayanam, general secretary of the Madras Metro Auto Drivers Association.
Mr. Seshasayanam said before fixing autorickshaw fares, the government needed to form a committee that would include members of autorickshaw unions that could meet and revise fares as and when fuel prices increased.
“Autorickshaws in the city run on three kinds of fuel – petrol, gas and diesel. The government should first increase the number of gas-filling outlets in the city before fixing the fares. One kg of gas costs Rs. 47 and it gives a mileage of 20 km. Petrol also gives the same mileage but the cost per litre is Rs. 69. With the price of petrol so high, it is impossible to run autorickshaws on low fares,” he said.
A GPS-based meter model is also under consideration now