Delhi auto, taxi rides costlier (Lead)

June 22nd, 2010 - 7:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 22 (IANS) Commuters in the national capital will have to pay 35 percent more from Wednesday for travelling by autorickshaws and taxis, but the Delhi government said the fare hike comes with a promise to make three-wheeler travel consumer-friendly.
The government said all the 55,000 autorickshaws in the city will be fitted within six months with a global positioning system (GPS) connected to a call centre. The move is aimed at checking overcharging by drivers.

Delhi Transport Minister Arvinder Singh Lovely said autorickshaws will charge Rs.19 from commuters for the first two kilometres of travel and Rs.6.50 for each subsequent kilometre.

At present, autorickshaws charge Rs.10 for the first kilometre and Rs.4.50 for each subsequent kilometre.

Likewise, black-and-yellow cabs, which charged Rs.15 for the first kilometre, will now charge Rs.20 for the same distance and Rs.11 for every kilometre thereafter, as against the current Rs.8.50. However, fares of radio taxis have not been increased.

The new fares for autorickshaws and taxis follow a Rs.5.60 per kilogram rise in the price of Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) last week and the subsequent demand from unions.

“However, there will be no increase in fare rates of Delhi Transport Corporation and private Blueline buses. The losses to be incurred by the DTC will be borne by the state government,” the minister said.

The autorickshaw and taxi fares in the capital were last hiked in 2007.

“We took into consideration not only the rise in CNG price, but also the about 70 percent hike in maintenance and other costs. We are effecting the hike with a rider that the three-wheelers will be consumer-friendly,” Lovely said.

In its bid to make auto travel safer, the government said the GPS system will be installed in them in the next six months and connected with a call centre.

“The GPS system will help locate an autorickshaw, connect with the call centre and calculate actual distance covered. The government will charge Rs.1,500 per month for the GPS system. Through the system we will also be able to take an action against errant autorickshaw drivers. In case they are found to switch it off without any reason, they will be fined Rs.2,000,” said a senior transport department official.

The notification regarding fare hike is likely to come Wednesday, after which the new tariff will be implemented, he said.

Meanwhile, the autorickshaw and taxi union members said they were happy with the hike announced in fares.

“We are satisfied with the fare hike. We have been demanding it for long and finally the government decided to increase the fare,” said Suresh Sharma, president of Rashtravadi Janta Tipahiya Chalak Mahasangh.

The autorickshaw union chief said their members have no problem in fitting the GPS system in their vehicles.

“The decision to fit GPS was taken only after taking us into confidence. The transport commissioner held a meeting with us 15 days back,” Ashok Kumar Tiwari, vice president of Bhartia Tipahiya Chalak Sangh Congress.

However, the hike has come as a blow to residents of Delhi who are already facing the heat of inflation and hike in taxes.

“We have been heavily taxed due to the Commonwealth Games. And now a hike in autorickshaw fares…Delhi is no more a place to live for middle class,” said Saurabh Shukla, a government employee.

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