To the stress and distress of millions of commuters in Mumbai comes the news that they will now have to pay more for taxi and auto rickshaw rides, as fares have been hiked by Rs 2 after the Bombay HC ruled on the issue in favour of the government. After the hike comes into effect, the minimum fare for taxis will go up to Rs 21 from Rs 19. Auto rickshaw fares will go up to Rs 17 from Rs 15. But only autos and taxis with recalibrated meters will be allowed to charge the new fares. The state government has submitted to the court that it will take around 45 days to recalibrate the electronic meters of all autos and taxis in Mumbai city and its suburbs.

While the commuter has no option now but to pay the revised fares, it is up to cabs and autos to keep their side of the bargain. They need to adhere to the rule that they must ply and cannot give commuters a ‘no’ for an answer.

In spite of several drives launched in the past, where cabbies and autos were pressurised to take commuters, and the media acting as vigilantes, one sees that cabs and autos continue to refuse passengers. In fact, their reasons for refusing to ply get more innovative every month. From fabricated faults in the engine to complaining about shifts getting over and having to be home which falls on the other side of town, it is a treasure trove of excuses which drivers fish out.

Confusion over calibration, too, prevails, and drivers need to desist from making fraudulent claims to passengers, saying that they must pay revised fares even if the meters have not been calibrated. Everybody does not know the rules and citing half the rule and not telling the passenger the other half that they need to pay only if the meter shows it is cheating.

There has to be strict action against drivers who insist that commuters pay higher fares or try to get away with fake fare cards which has happened in the past. Don’t take advantage of the confusion to fleece time-strapped passengers. The only ride commuters should to be taken on, is the one in which they pay the correct fare when they reach their destination.