In such a scenario, our public transport system — arguably the only ticket to mobility for the majority without personal vehicles — is beyond doubt that critical lifeline that the city’s health and life hinges upon.
This perhaps explains the audacity with which the auto rickshaw drivers in the city start acting up, at (less than) periodic intervals. And they are at it again, barely seven months after holding the city hostage to a strike. The relentless Mumbai Auto Rickshawmen’s Union will be on strike today, to move for an extensive charter of demands.
Time and again, this community has taken advantage of the city’s dependence on them. Their rudeness, their willfulness in choosing which fares to ply, their flash strikes, have repeatedly been the source of distress for hapless commuters.
This time, the irony and audacity lies in the bewildering fact that the strike comes close on the heels of the transport department’s approval for a hike of Re 1 in the base fare. (To put it plainly for readers, it’s a double whammy this time — a fare hike and a strike to boot.)
Not happy with the hike, they are clamouring for an increment of not Re 1, 2 or 3, but an eye-popping leap of Rs 5, all at one go.
For argument’s sake, let us assume that all their demands are met. What does that guarantee us? Will Sharad Rao and his union ensure that there will be no short-distance fare refusals and no tampering of meters or that those found guilty will be dealt with strictly? Will the lakhs of commuters who depend on autos for their daily commute finally be able to get a stress-free ride?
For all the harassment commuters are subjected to repeatedly, they sure deserve it.