Saturday, March 21, 2009

Why not mileage meter for autos?

Today's autorikshaw-meters show rupee/paise figures. The metered fare is calculated in accordance with the starting minimum and the per-km rate fixed by the Regional Transport Authority (RTO). But then the rates are subject to periodical revisions, entailing re-calibration of meters in keeping with the latest fare structure.

It is cumbersome, and not all auto-drivers re-calibrate meters every time there is fare revision. The situation leaves considerable scope for argument/dispute over the legitimate fare. Consumer rights activist Asha Vombatkere suggests fitting out autorickshaws with meter showing distance travelled, rather than the fare payable by a passenger.

Autos fitted with mileage-meter need not be re-calbrated whenever the authorities revise the fare structure. All they need to do is issue a fresh fare-chart to auto-drivers. Ms Vombatkere,spokesperson for Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP), said the revised auto-fare chart could be published in the local media, and displayed in railway station, bus station, and autorikshaw stands.

Ms.Vombatkere says Mysore has over 17,000 autos, most of which have out-dated mechanical meters, although they had been directed by RTO to switch to digital meters in 2002. Many auto-drivers prefer the good old mechanical meters that are eminently amenable to tampering. A media report quoting official sources said atleast 100 cases of alleged tampered meters are booked against auto-drivers every week.

Related item - Incredible India, incorrigible auto-men


Bud-Wiser said...

Tariff cards every time there is a fare revision?Not a good idea, anything that takes us 5 step backwards instead of one step forward will never be a good idea.

One of the reasons why India couldn't develop for the first 40 years after independence was its lack of adaption of technology.So, why do we want to go back to papers?

Plus, Tariff cards are used by Auto drivers in Pune, they hardly take it out ( because they have memorized the rates ), and when we ask them to take it out, they normally have excuses. If meters can be tampered with, how much will it take to take a print out of a fake tariff card and more so a fake seal?

Digital meters are the way to go, Singapore makes use satellites,allthough we cannot do that in India now, but as said before, I want to look forward, not go back to pages and pencils and pens.

"It is cumbersome, and not all auto-drivers re-calibrate meters every time there is fare revision."

As far as I have seen, the meter revision is always upwards, so if auto walas don't re calibrate it, they are in loss.I think, the main problem is that they recalibrate it even when there is no revision.

"auto-fare chart could be published in the local media, and displayed in railway station, bus station, and autorikshaw stands."

You would still miss out of a lot of people.

I think, its a pretty bad idea. While you have given the facts here, you did not write what you feel about it?

Unknown said...

It is certainly not a bad idea and it is likely to work if the tariff tables are displayed at all auto stands and autos are compelled to display them alongside the meters. Local newspapers too can publish them every week like the local train and bus timings. Dr.K.Javeed Nayeem, Mysore

shanks said...

Nothing stops the automen to tamper the distance meter. Moreover, I agree with Chikki that any move to go back in technology is not welcome.

The solution is better policing by the Police and the RTO the consumer clubs and commuters should pressurize the authorities to calibrate the meters and do auto checking the way they do for Helmets and Licenses for two wheelers.


I can barely control my laughter. All the autos in Chennai have digital meters. But nobody, least of all, the passenger, looks at them even. The auto man uses it only as an ornamentation, to submit to the government's whim. The government has taken only a half-measure here: insisted on the autos having the digital meter, but not insisting on its use. All fares are fixed by the auto men and passengers before the trip, after the ritual of haggling.