Auto unions allege that it is the RTO's failure to construct ample auto stands that has led to commuting woes
While it's the rickshawallas who are being solely blamed for the commuting nightmares experienced by Mumbaikars, a scrutiny of the entire situation exposes the lackadaisical approach of the Transport Department and the Regional Transport Office (RTO) in constructing official stands for autos and taxis, which has compounded the situation.
All lined up: Thousands of passengers form serpentine queues at auto
stands every day. The auto union has been complaining that they are
falling short of 400 stands in the city. Representation pic
This loophole is what the auto drivers are now exploiting to refuse passengers from plying at railway stations.
When reprimanded over their arrogant behaviour of refusing to ply and riding with half-meters, the drivers simply blamed it on the dearth of authorised stands.
They claim that with no space to park, they are left with no option but to drive on half-meter and refuse passengers.
Abhishek Joshi, who takes an auto from Andheri station to his workplace every day, said, "Earlier I used to get an auto within 15 minutes.
However, these days, there are hardly any autos near the station road, forcing me to walk ahead to hire one."
While the RTO is busy amassing accolades for cracking the whip on errant auto drivers, it appears to be sleeping over the automen's demands of constructing authorised stands, one of the prime reasons for commuters' inconvenience. The auto rickshaw unions have claimed that they are falling short of 400 stands in the eastern and western suburbs. "We have asked the government to revive at least those stands that have been dismantled during construction work of roads and flyovers," said auto union leader Thampy Kurian.
No parking space
According to the drivers, lack of official parking space or stands, forces them to be on the move constantly. And hence they have to refuse when they want to rest. "The RTO has been ignoring our pleas for reconstructing those stands that were dismantled," said A Quadros, general secretary of Mumbai Taximen's Union.
According to the union, they had been pleading with the authorities to construct nearly 1,200 stands, but to no avail. At present, there are around 600-odd taxi stands operating, where on an average, only three to four taxis can be parked at one time.
Currently, the RTO is concentrating on introducing more share-a-rickshaw stands that currently stand at 93 across the suburbs. The move was considered after the auto unions stated that such stands could at least
act as resting places for the drivers. Some of the share auto stands that are prominently used are at Bandra (E), Goregaon, Mulund, Vile Parle and Bandra Kurla Complex.
The number of auto stands that the unions have demanded
Share-a-rickshaw stands in Mumbai