TAMIL NADU

RTOs take auto fare campaign to citizens

UNDER SCRUTINY: Traffic police and transport officials have launched a week-long drive to ensure that all autos in the city flag their meters and collect the fare as per the tariff cards distributed by RTOs. A scene at Chennai Central railway station on Friday. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan

UNDER SCRUTINY: Traffic police and transport officials have launched a week-long drive to ensure that all autos in the city flag their meters and collect the fare as per the tariff cards distributed by RTOs. A scene at Chennai Central railway station on Friday. Photo: S.R. Raghunathan  

Staff Reporter

Insist on meters, pay by rate card, public told Transport officials, consumer welfare groups and auto driver unions join hands for a weeklong awareness drive

CHENNAI: Next time you board an autorickshaw, insist on the driver flagging the meter, and pay by the rate card distributed by the Regional Transport Officer (RTO).

On Thursday, transport officials, consumer groups and auto drivers' unions joined hands to create awareness among the public that the cards were issued keeping in mind the time gap between January 26 when the new tariff came into effect and the deadlines for switch-over to electronic meters.

The awareness campaign hinges on three facts: drivers no longer have an excuse not to flag meters; the deadlines for re-calibrating meters or changing them have no bearing on the passengers; and more important, the rate cards that list the present tariff against the old must not be put away in a corner. The cards list the new rates against the old, and can be used to find the fare for vehicles that have meters still calibrated to the old tariff. There are two fare cards one for mechanical meters and the other for electronic meters.

The campaign was launched at the Chennai Central railway station and moved on to Walltax Road. Over the next six days, the RTOs plan to carry out similar campaigns all over the city.

Consumer groups that participated in the campaign said most drivers were aware that the rate cards displayed the new rates against the old ones that show up on the meters. But they continued to charge arbitrarily only because the passengers have not started insisting on the cards. P. Loganathan of the Consumers' Council of India said: "One must insist on the fare card right at the time of boarding the auto. Most end up paying more than even what the new tariff warrants."

Joint Transport Commissioner K. Yogarajan said the 10 Regional Transport Offices have distributed 45,380 cards.

The Transport officials held a meeting of mechanics to ensure that the rates for recalibration of meters remained reasonable. The deadline for re-calibration and change-over to electronic meters as mentioned in the G.O is as follows: Auto rickshaws with electronic meters must calibrate to new tariff by March 11; vehicles with mechanical meters must calibrate to new tariff by April 25; and vehicles with mechanical meters must switch to electronic meters by July 25.

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