Commuters head for pre-paid booths to avoid being fleeced
delhi: irked by the overcharging by autorickshaw and taxi drivers,
an increasing number of commuters are using pre-paid services.
the traffic police say their number had crossed 14 lakh by september
this year. ‘‘people are satisfied by the pre-paid
booths managed by the traffic police. they are turning to these
booths more than before,’’ said maxwell pereira, joint
commissioner of police (traffic). till september, 9,43,523 persons
used pre-paid services for autorickshaws and 4,77,226 for taxis.
of the 28 pre-paid booths in the city, the most popular ones are
at the airports, railway stations and bus terminuses. ‘‘traditionally,
they have always drawn most of the users. but these days, activity
at even the other booths is picking up,’’ said a traffic
official managing the pre-paid operations. ‘‘most
commuters rely on pre-paid services as we maintain a record of
the auto or taxi, along with its driver and owner. the drivers,
therefore, cannot afford to overcharge or misbehave with the passengers,’’
said arun kampani, deputy commissioner of police (new delhi) traffic.
the pre-paid scheme started in 1986 from indira gandhi international
airport, and later branched out to other places. like other public
utility services in the capital, attempts are made to circumvent
even this facility. ‘‘touts swarm booths and try to
bully passengers. such practices are curbed by policemen posted
around the booth,’’ said a traffic official. at one
time, the situation was so bad at igi airport that touts were
calling the shots. ‘‘we successfully conducted a drive
with the local police to remove them,’’ pereira said.
the traffic police feel the popularity of their booths is not
going to be affected by new entrants like the private taxi services.
‘‘their fares include luxury charges and come to about
five times the normal auto or taxi rates,’’ said an
official. ‘‘if there are pre-paid booths in every
shopping complex, the fleecing could end.’’ said jnu
research student sandeep singh, a regular commuter on autorickshaws.
‘‘the 29-odd booths are enough for the city. moreover,
these are managed by the traffic police on a no-profit basis,
charging just re 1 as service charges. this money is used to pay
the honorarium of the staff,’’ pereira said.
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