Used to being fleeced thanks to tampered meters, passengers were pleasantly surprised at the actual rates, as autos returned to the streets
Commuters across the suburbs heaved a huge sigh of relief as auto drivers were back on the roads, four days after they went on strike to protest against the crackdown on illegal meters. And the joy for commuters was doubled, when meters ticked slower and the rates were lesser than before.
"I travel from Shreyas Talkies to Ghatkopar station everyday and pay Rs 20-25. However, for the last two days I have been paying Rs 15 or 17. Now, I realise that all this time I was being fleeced. Thanks to the crackdown, I can pay the right amount," said PB Pai, a resident of Ghatkopar.
Good for the common man: PB Pai
"The rickshaw rates have decreased and the number of auto drivers refusing to ply has also decreased. Earlier, I would have to pay Rs 85 from Goregaon to Santacruz. However, now I pay just Rs 70, chirped Balasaheb More, another resident from Goregaon.
"I have called up the RTO office and congratulated the officials on the drive carried out by them. For so long, Mumbaikars were being cheated. Prior to the strike, I would take the crowded bus to the station because of the crooked ways of the rickshaw drivers," quipped Sharad Rane, a resident of Vile Parle.
Loss of business
And while it was a day of joy and celebration for the common man, the rickshaw drivers, who were back on the roads, grumbled as meters ticked slower creating a hole in their pockets.
Lamenting on the loss of business, Kushal Pande, a rickshaw driver, said, "Now all the meters are running as per the RTO regulations. People are definitely relieved, but it is us who are suffering the losses. We are now contemplating a strike after 10 days to demand an increase in prices."
"I am surely feeling the pinch of it all. Yesterday, I earned Rs 60 lesser than what I normally do, which is causing me great stress," said Raju Gawli, a rickshaw driver at Vikhroli.
And as rickshaws poured out on city roads, RTO officials were happy with the work they had done.
Since the start of the crackdown, officials have confiscated 97 meters in the western and 60 in the central suburbs.
After the RTO's crackdown, officials have been receiving congratulatory messages. RTO officer (Andheri) Bharat Kalaskar said, "I am very happy that people are pleased with the work that we have done. Rickshaw drivers work to serve the public and they should not cheat them."
Thampy Kurian, general secretary of the Mumbai Rickshawmen Union said, "There is no plan to strike now.
Seeing drivers back on the streets is a good sign. The rickshaw meter rate difference could be attributed to traffic. All rickshaw drivers had to face the ire for only a handful of rogue drivers."