Delhi auto commuters haggle as meters with revised fare are delayed

The transport department notified revised fares for autorickshaws on January 9, but weights and measures department is yet to get a written copy so as to begin recalibration of meters

Delhi auto-rickshaw fare revised, recalibrated meters
Under the revised rates the minimum auto fare will be Rs 30 for the first 1.5 km instead of Rs 25 earlier

Commuters and autorickshaw drivers in the national capital continue to bear the brunt of a departmental delay in sending the new notification to the body concerned for recalibration of meters that will reflect the revised fare.

On January 9, a notification was issued by the transport department regarding revised fare for autorickshaws. However, the office of the Controller legal metrology (weights and measures department) is yet to receive a written order from the transport department. Delhi currently has over 1 lakh autos, of which around 70,000 are plying on roads on a daily basis.

“We have been demanding a rate hike since the last one year. The old rates don’t reflect the growing price of CNG. Today CNG is almost Rs 80 per kg, whereas the prevailing fares don’t reflect the rise,” said Rajesh Mishra an autorickshaw driver from Bihar. He also revealed that although the meters are not recalibrated and still reflect the old rate — Rs 25 for the first 1.5 km — auto drivers charge rates according to the current CNG rates.

Autorickshaw drivers’ issues  


Under the revised rates, according to the notification, the minimum auto fare will be Rs 30 instead of Rs 25. Beyond the initial 1.5 km, the customer will be required to pay Rs 11 instead of Rs 9.50 earlier.

Also read: Why the humble autorickshaw is key to e-mobility growth in India

“Customers who travel for long distances, don’t want to be charged according to the meter. They want to be charged a sum that is beneficial to them. Whereas, customers who travel for short distance, usually insist on going by the meter, which actually results in loss for us. As the new revised list hasn’t been issued, we find it very difficult to convince the commuters,” said Mishra.

A group of auto drivers near Parliament Street spoke about problems that remain unaddressed. “Although there are close to 12 auto unions in Delhi, but only 2-3 are functional in the true sense who genuinely voice our concern. The auto drivers were assured by the AAP govt of facilities like permanent auto stands, resting corners, drinking water stations, etc. But nothing has been done. We voted in mass for the Aam Aadmi Party. In 2013, during the Lok Pal agitation led by Anna Hazare, we spent our own money to create awareness and draw crowds. We even took offs to support the cause. But now, the government has failed us,” they said.

Commuters’ problems

Aparna Seth underlined the problems faced by commuters. Since autos are mostly used for last-mile connectivity, she said, the commuters face genuine issues as fares are decided arbitrarily by auto drivers. The government must come out with a clear direction by which rates are well laid out.

“I am ready to pay Rs 15-20 more than the old rates as I know that the rates are not revised according to the current CNG prices. But auto drivers end up charging twice or thrice the amount. It ends up hitting us hard as we also have to adhere to a strict budget with spiralling inflation,” she said.

Lack of communication

Rajendra Soni, president, Delhi Auto- Rickshaw Chalak Sangh (Auto Union), says the order for revised fares has been issued by the transport department but there is no formal communication between the transport department and the weights and measures department.

“Until the weights and measures department gets a formal notification, they will not begin the recalibration process. Companies that are engaged in making the meters need to send a sample meter with upgraded software that reflect the new rates. Until the meter makers qualify in this testing process, recalibration process won’t begin. The delay in sending the notification and an absence of a clearly laid out rate chart has impacted our business. Customers often complain of being overcharged and end up lodging complaints against us,” Soni said.

Recalibration of meters

Speaking to The Federal, Krishan Kumar, an official in the weights and measures department, said, “Once we get the written order, we will begin the recalibration process. It will be done in according to the series and not at once. The entire exercise may take around 4-5 months.”

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Explaining the process involved in recalibration, Farooq Ahmed, who owns a government-certified meter shop, said the weights and measures department informs the certified centres once the software has been updated in the meters. It is only after that we take meters from auto drivers and get the new software installed, he said, adding, the entire process takes two days.

Talking about the delay this time, he said that once formal communication is obtained by the weights and measures department, we will begin the process. However, he was optimistic that the process will start as early as February 1. There are about 30 government-authorised meter shops in Delhi, Ahmed informed.