Auto rickshaws demand unlocking of shared services

Auto rickshaw representative outfits have demanded the resumption of shared auto services in Mumbai. As per the government rules, no more than two passengers are allowed to sit inside an auto rickshaw. Due to this, passengers boarding an auto rickshaw are required to pay the full fare, even when they are travelling on feeder routes. There are nearly 100 registered feeder auto rickshaw routes across Mumbai, which provide last mile connectivity to the passengers from railway stations and BEST bus stops.

Mumbai Rickshaw Men's Association has petitioned the state government to allow the resumption of these services with two passengers inside. "We have asked the government to allow shared services with two passengers and we will charge the fare of the third passenger from the two of them," said Thampi Kurien, general secretary of the association.

If the fare of a shared auto rickshaw was Rs 20 per seat while carrying three passengers, then the revised fare would be Rs 30 per seat for two passengers. Kurien stated for each shared trip, profit varies between Rs 8 to Rs 15. If the fare for the third passenger is not levied, auto rickshaws would run on loss.

"We have to sanitise our auto rickshaws daily. Then, there is the cost of CNG. For five months, we were out of business. How will we survive if we sacrifice for our budget?" Kurien asked.

Meanwhile, many passengers stated that they are ready to pay an extra buck if shared services restart.

"I board a local train daily. The journey from my home to the station takes around an hour in BEST, which would earlier take 20 minutes at the most. Shared auto rickshaws should resume services," said a government employee, who commutes daily between Kandivali and Churchgate. "BEST buses are not always regular and most of the local trains don't stop at all the stations. Shared autos would be a reliable source for the last mile connectivity," said Nikita Nikam, an Oshiwara resident and banker.

Meanwhile, the auto rickshaw and taxi associations have also petitioned to the state transport department demanding a Rs 2 to Rs 3 hike in fares. Taxi and auto rickshaw unions stated that there has been no hike in the fare in the last five years. Earlier, in June, a proposal of revised fare was made and the formula was accepted by the Khatua committee, although it has not been implemented yet.

The revised minimum fare for rickshaws would be Rs 20 from Rs 18 and for kaali-peeli taxis Rs 25 from Rs 22.

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