The good news is that the mechanical meters fitted in taxis and autorickshaws will be replaced by electronic meters before May 2013 and display the revised tariff. There is, however, some bad news too — most electronic meters in these vehicles have not been recaliberated, and faulty mechanical meters have not be repaired (it has been made mandatory for all taxis and autorickshaws to repair their meters by November 24 to display the revised tariff — Rs 19 for taxis and Rs 15 for autorickshaws).
Despite the mandate given by the State Transport department, most of the taxi and autorickshaw drivers with mechanical meters have not repaired their faulty meters, citing lack of spare parts. Commuters are likely to get a raw deal since a faulty mechanical meter usually runs faster, which requires the commuter to shell out more. Sources in the regional transport office (RTO) said that most of the drivers are waiting to replace their mechanical meters with e-meters — the deadline is March 31 for autorickshaws and April 30 for taxis — and not recalibrating them according to the revised fares.
“By November 24, all e-meters and mechanical meters have to be recalibrated according to revised fares. However, we know that many drivers prefer replacing mechanical meters with recalibrated e-meters — since they have a longer deadline — than recalibrate them now,” said a RTO official.
There are nearly 70,000 auto rickshaws and 15,000 taxis that still use mechanical meters that are often tampered.
The taxi and autorickshaw unions, however, claim that there aren’t enough e-meters in the market and that the meter repairers often refuse to repair mechanical meters. “We have received complaints from drivers that the meter repairers give frivolous reasons and refuse to repair mechanical meters,” said union leader AL Quadros of Mumbai Taximen’s Union.
The auto union, too, claims that the RTOs need to make provisions for drivers to replace and recalibrate mechanical meters with new e-meters. “The RTOs should organise sessions to get all meter manufacturers and drivers together to install e-meters. E-meters are being blackmarketed because of the shortage in supply,” said Shashank Rao, assistant general secretary, Mumbai Auto Rickshawmen’s Union.
According to the notification issued on October 25, all e-meters from December this year must be fitted in taxis during its annual fitness exam or before April 30, 2013, whichever is earlier. Similarly by March 31, 2013, all autorickshaws need to have e-meters installed. Around 1.05 lakh autorickshaws and 42,000 taxis ply in Mumbai.