Pre-paid auto rickshaws, introduced by the City traffic police to check fleecing of passengers, appear to have failed to serve the purpose.
According to the original plan, pre-paid auto booths are to be equipped with an attendant to issue computer-generated slips to passengers. However, till date, a majority of the booths lack such infrastructure. A police constable, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that while passengers demanded receipts at the booths, auto drivers argued that the fare mentioned in the receipt was less than what had been fixed by the authorities.
“In the absence of proper equipment or real-time information, it becomes very difficult to convince both parties,” the constable said.
Prashanth Kumar, an employee of a footwear store, said the booth on MG Road claimed itself to be a ‘prefixed auto booth’ while the one on Commercial Street is named ‘pre-paid auto stand’.
“Irrespective of the nomenclature, neither issues receipts nor displays fares. Customers merely have to rely on the word of the traffic personnel and presume they are demanding the correct fare.”
The problems of the passengers doesn’t end here. They often complain that drivers do not drop them at their destination and demand additional fare during the journey. Sometimes they even ask passengers to disembark from the vehicle if they refuse to pay excess fare.
Auto drivers have their own version. According to Sriram Prasad, a driver, it is wrong to tar all auto drivers with the same brush. “Not all auto drivers behave rudely with passengers. We have asked the traffic police to instal a camera at the pre-paid booths for the convenience of passengers,” he said.
The Traffic police came up with the idea of pre-paid auto booths in 2011. Altogether, they claim to have set up 16 such booths across the City. However, the system is yet to gain mass acceptance.
M A Saleem, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), said in case a driver refuses to take passengers to their destination or demands excess fare, the matter should be reported to the authorities through SMS, IVRS, or at the nearest police station. He said such action will help police crack down on rogue elements.