In a major decision aimed at putting an end to arbitrary rates charged by auto drivers, the State government on Sunday revised the auto fares and has made meters — which have been dysfunctional in the vehicles for over 10 years — mandatory.
The government has also introduced safety measures for passengers. The meters will now have a GPS system installed and carry a panic button to be used by the passenger, if he/she is in trouble.
The decision comes in the wake of a Supreme Court directive asking the government to revise the fares within a stipulated period of time. The case relating to the matter is scheduled for hearing on Monday when the State is expected to file the compliance report.
According to the revised fares announced in a statement by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the autorickshaws will henceforth charge a minimum of Rs 25 for the first 1.8 km. Every additional kilometre will attract a charge of Rs 12. During night hours (11 pm to 5 am), passengers will be charged 50 per cent more than day rates. Waiting charges for every 5 minutes will be Rs 3.50, which works out to Rs 42 per hour, said the statement.
Sources said autorickshaw unions had demanded Rs 30 for the first 2 km and Rs 15 for every additional km. The government arrived at the present rates after a fair bit of give-and-take between unions and consumer groups.
Aspects such as the vehicle’s daily rental, drivers’ minimum wages and fuel cost were factored in while deciding the rates, said officials. The unions also wanted the government to keep in mind that almost 25 per cent of the commute an auto does is without a passenger, while returning to the stands, and this had to be considered while fixing the prices.
The revised fare comes into force immediately. However, auto drivers have time till September 15 to collect rate cards from Regional Transport Offices and till October 15 to tune their meters according to the new rates.