Recent Economic Issue faced by India

Hike in auto-rickshaw fares in Delhi

A recent hike in CNG prices has increased the auto-rickshaw and taxi fares by 40% in Delhi. The increased price of public transport is not much appreciated by Delhi citizens. Although bus fares have been spared for now, it won’t come as a shock if a month later even they start pinching the pockets of the common man.

The basic fare for autos has now been fixed at Rs 20 for the first two Kilometers. This is a hike from Rs 10 for the first kilometer earlier. For each subsequent kilometer, the fare will be Rs 6-6 .50 as against Rs 4.50 earlier.
The taxi fare is likely to be increased from Rs 15 to Rs 20 for the first kilometer and from Rs 8.50 to Rs 12 for each following kilometer.

This announcement had been formally made by the transport minister, Arvind Singh Lovely, on Tuesday, the 22nd of this month. Earlier, Mr. Lovely had linked this hike to the installation of GPS (full form) in the autos in an effort to bring them under government surveillance. The government has planned to make these installments mandatory within six months . Hopefully this would not increase the auto fares further.

When asked to explain the reason for a 40% hike, the officials pointed out a 67% hike in CNG prices from 2007 to 2010. According to them the cost of autos has also risen by 17%. Adding to this are the operational and maintenance costs at Rs 30,000 as opposed to Rs 14000 earlier.

The auto and taxi unions have welcomed this hike more than happily since they had been pressing the government for it for a long time. The recent hike in CNG prices had sent the unions to warpath but now they are getting their due. General Secretary of Delhi Autorickshaw Manch and Delhi Pradesh Taxi Union, Rajinder Soni, has acknowledged his acceptance to them and has said that he would urge all drivers to adopt a commuter-friendly approach.

This is definitely a debatable issue for most commuters who have witnessed unruly behavior by the auto drivers. The government does not realize that increasing the fare makes the commuters worse off. Regular riders would willingly agree to a higher price if the service offered to them was worth it. In Delhi, unfortunately, its not.

Complete denial to use the meter, charging maximum price for the shortest distance, taking advantage of customer’s urgency by not resigning to correct price, unnecessary usage of lanes, by-lanes & road-less shortcuts are few of the many unpleasant characteristic traits of auto drivers in Delhi.  Regular riders have also noticed that many times autos don’t stop even if they are empty and have seen people waving.

Needless to say, the state of Delhi public transport authorities is pitiable. The least they could do was to discipline their drivers and maintain checks on useage of standard meters installed in every auto. The persistent haggling only results in a wastage of time, energy and off-course money of the commuter.

The citizens of Delhi account for a large share of human resource employed in running this country, through the national capital. Looking ahead at the nearing Commonwealth Games, each individual of Delhi, the host city, should realize his responsibility of being a good host; be it the auto drivers or the daily commuters. If we practice what we preach- “atithi devo bhava” – we might be able to achieve a better global perspective on our country. Maybe it’s high time the auto drivers realize this and consider the increase in auto fare as an incentive to work on their behavioral skills. So that when the next time the fares are increased, maybe in 2015, the commuters also believe that yes, the “auto drivers are getting their due.”

Tanaya Malhotra

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