Recalibration yet to happen

Recalibration yet to happen

It’s always the same story with autos and commuters — the auto drivers feel that they are too underpaid while commuters point out that they are being overcharged. 

To make matters worse, the Government of Karnataka rolled out revised meter fares for Bangalore autos on December 20, 2013, wherein the minimum meter fare became Rs 25 instead of the earlier Rs 20 (good up to 1.9 km). 

For every subsequent kilometre, commuters had to pay Rs 13 instead of Rs 11. With initial reluctance and annoyance, commuters accepted this revision, spending considerably more than before. 

Auto drivers have been given time till the end of March to recalibrate their meters, but two months have passed and the progress appears slow. 

M Manjunath, president of Adarsha Auto and Taxi Drivers’ Union, says, “The process has already begun and approximately one lakh autos in Bangalore should have recalibrated meters by April. The Road Transport Authority (RTA) gave us a three-month deadline but the delay happened because of the legal metrology (weights & measures) department,” informs Manjunath. 

“The recalibration costs each auto owner Rs 300 and takes anything between ten to 30 minutes. RTOs aren’t supposed to issue a fitness certificate or provide insurance papers till recalibration is done, which is why the drivers can’t resist this. Until it’s done, commuters have to check the tariff cards with the RTO seal which have been issued to the drivers,” he adds.  

Manjunath adds that the auto unions are waiting for a new subsidised scheme to purchase electronic meters with GPS system and printers. “We’ve been following up with various government bodies since early 2013. After the Nirbhaya case, the Central government asked the State government to install these new meters in all Bangalore autos. But the transport department is still ‘looking into it’,” he says.

Seema K, assistant controller, legal metrology (auto and taxi units) department, says that the work should be complete in four to five months as over one lakh auto meters need recalibration. “We started the recalibration on February 14.

The delay in starting the work happened because the RTO wanted another hike. After the LPG rates came down, we had a meeting and pushed for this work to begin. There are seven inspector offices in Bangalore and an average of 600-650 auto meters are being recalibrated in total everyday. If there’s a road test, it takes 30 minutes while the bench test takes 20 minutes. The pace is quite good,” she says.

Hussain, an autorickshaw driver for 25 years, says, “We understand that the jump from Rs 20 to Rs 25 is quite a lot. It used to go up by 15 paise at a time, after which it became one rupee more and now, Rs 5! It’s expensive for commuters but it’s tough to survive with what we earn. We have to look after our children’s education, medical fees and daily necessities, which is impossible with the ration and provisions we get.

I’m willing to recalibrate the meter but how much will that help?” he questions. Commuters are suffering due to increased fares and delay in recalibration. Kavya Shastry, a student of Jyoti Nivas College, travels by autos everyday. “It’s very inconvenient and there’s no reason for us to trust the tariff card they show us.

Recently, an auto driver tried to fool me into paying Rs 30 more than the actual amount. But I calculated the amount myself and gave him a piece of my mind for cheating,” she notes.

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