Autos fall in line

Commuters delighted with the crackdown on errant autos at prime spots in the city have appreciated MiD DAY's Meter Down campaign and expressed their support for the cause

Location: Family court, Bandra (East), Bandra Kurla complex
Time: 9-11 am, 5-7 pm
Offenders caught : 13

Commuters Speak:
Surendra Chauhan said, "Many drivers in the area refuse to ply and they offer silly excuses. I am a senior citizen and cannot travel by bus, because they are always crowded. Auto drivers should cooperate with us."

Ganesh Paliwala said, "It is almost impossible to find a rickshaw after 5.30 pm. The sharing rickshaws charge Rs 12 per seat, and many refuse to ply giving an excuse that they have fixed commuters, whom they have to pick up from a certain place everyday."

Auto Drivers speak:
Ghanshyam Thakur said, "It was not my fault. People should stand at the right side of the road before approaching the rickshaws. They cannot stand anywhere and ask us to ply to the opposite side."

Inderjit Prakash said, "Few roads in the area are in really bad condition. I only refuse to ply to such places."

Text: Dazy Verma

Location: Tembli Bridge, Chembur
Time: 9-11:30 am, 5-7 pm
Offender Caught: 7
Commuters Speak:
Gokul Yadav, who travels to Rajawadi Hospital daily, said, "Since the last one month my mother is admitted to Rajawadi Hospital. Every morning when I try to catch a rickshaw from Tembli Bridge to Rajawadi Hospital most of them refuse the fare."

Anu Dharmarajan, who was on her way home said, "The refusals are often seen in Chembur area. It's raining and no one is ready to ply. I am happy that cops have caught the driver and charged him for breaking the law."

Auto Driver Speak:
Bhiva Aldar, a rickshaw driver said, "The passenger was refused as there was no fuel in the rickshaw. I was going to refuel it now. I have been  driving from 4 am and was getting continuous fares. At last when the tank is empty I am trapped for refusing fare."

Text: Faisal G Tandel

Location: Outside Andheri East station
Time: 9.30-11.30 am.
Offenders caught: 16

All gas: Auto drivers came up with silly excuses to dodge paying a fine

Commuters speak:
Hrutuja Kambli (33), who works in a software firm, said, "The rickshaw drivers are adamant to ply passengers only for long distances. I am forced to walk the distance to my office and end up being late everyday."

Naved Shaikh (21), who works in an export company, said, "Out of sheer desperation, I have traveled in share rickshaws during peak hours from Andheri east when the drivers have charged Rs 30 per seat for a ride."

Auto drivers speak:
Lawrence Fernandes, said, "I have no CNG gas left. Hence, I refused to ply the passenger."
However, when constable Satyavan Sawant checked the gas tank, it was found to be full and the driver was caught lying.
Spot of bother:
When auto driver Rajesh Gupta was hauled up for refusing to ply passengers, he argued, "What can the police do more than fine me Rs 500-1,000 for my act of refusing to ply the passengers. I shall just pay the amount." Hearing such an arrogant comment, a mob of passengers gathered around him and gave him an earful.

Said a visibly agitated Kamal Singhvi, "If these rickshaw drivers refuse to ply passengers then they must not ply their vehicle on the roads in the first place. They must take to some other job or sit at home."
Rickshaw driver Gupta was then taken to Andheri police station for his adamant behaviour.

Constable Satyavan Sawant then informed the agitated crowd that they can now give written complaints against rickshaw drivers that refuse to ply them and distributed the forms to the people.

Pic:Mahesh Chafe, Text:Nivedita Dargalkar

Location: Ghatkopar (W)
Time: 9-11 am, 5-7 pm
Offenders caught: 14

Law breaker: This police officer in plain clothes jumped the line and
boarded a rick

Commuter speak:
Prajakta Bhalerao, a resident of Himalaya society said, "Ghatkopar rickshaw drivers are notorious for refusing to ply. With the metro work on, the rickshaw menace is even worse. They insist on following a queue but will accept only the furthest fare.

Auto drivers speak:
Anand Singh, a rickshaw driver said,, "I always agree to ferry commuters and accepted this person (cop in plain clothes) to avoid being booked for refusal. But now I have been booked for plying out of the stand."

Spot of bother:
Going to the doctor turned out to be a nightmare for Manju Kamtekar who was on her way to Vidyavihar with her ill husband.
She said, "I waited for almost half an hour asking rickshaw drivers to go to the clinic in Vidyavihar (E), but everyone refused. I am fed up of this nuisance."
The traffic police had to intervene and help her get a rickshaw.

Lalit Kaji, an auto driver, was booked for breaching the queue. The passenger was a police officer in civil clothes. Rajkumar Devkar the police officer said, "I was in a hurry. The train was late so I had to catch the first rickshaw I got on my way to Saki Naka."

He used his clout to break the queue, but it was the rickshaw driver who was fined due to the actions of a so-called protector of the law.

Pic: Datta Kumbhar Text: Maleeva Rebello

Responses on the Breakfast show with RJ Shruti on Radio One
Samar Sarda: I stay in Andheri West and every morning I have to struggle to get a rickshaw for the station. They blatantly refuse to take us to the station and even if you ask them to go to Bandra, they still refuse without any logical reason.

Gurdeep Kaur: Yesterday, I tried to catch a rickshaw from Kurla but nobody was ready. I had to wait for almost an hour before a rickshaw finally agreed to ply on sharing basis. Then too he charged us Rs 40 per person, which is generally Rs15.

Sahita Shinde: Whenever I try to catch a rickshaw, they've only two reasons to refuse, one gaadi khadi karni hai and second khaana khane jaana hai. This is downright dictatorship.

Calls on the Traffic helpline number 
SMSes on MiD DAY number 

Book a rick online
With an increase in the number of rickshaw refusals that are causing daily stress to Mumbaikars, a website has been launched that allows commuters to book a rickshaw online or by phone. ( or call-022-25747474)

Hemant Jain - the brains behind the initiative - said, "It is a membership based service that we are providing. We have taken legal opinion on this and have been informed that permission is not required." He has tied up with 300 rickshaw drivers whose mobile phones have GPRS systems.

The rickshaw drivers will go as per the meter but will charge Rs 20 more for the convenience of the driver. However the state Transport department has stated that any such service needs official permission from their department. "They might be running it for any purpose, but necessary permissions need to be taken,"
said S Thakur, Additional Transport Commissioner.

Citizens in the city are excited about this call-a-rickshaw. Amina Suleiman said, "I often book a cab on the phone, now that rickshaws too will be available this way is great to see."

Girish Satam, a computer engineer, said, "When I have an urgent meeting rather than facing numerous refusals and having to feel irritated at the end, I will book a rick."

Pritam Hansraj, an accountant, said, "This seems like the apt service for people who are fed up with rickshaw drivers and their whims and fancies. I will surely try it out."

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