On Monday, Gurgaon’s third prepaid auto-rickshaw booth, at the Old Bus Stand, was made open to the public.
The booth, inaugurated by Gurgaon Police Commissioner Alok Mittal on Monday afternoon, comes a couple of months after the first two booths were opened, one at the Huda City Center Metro station and the other at the railway station. “We will be opening another one at IFFCO Chowk soon,” Mittal said.
According to Mittal, the move is aimed at tackling the problem of over-charging by auto-rickshaw drivers and increasing the safety of passengers.
By late afternoon, however, the booth operator had managed to complete only around 30 transactions. “There isn’t a lot of traffic for auto-rickshaws here, so there is unlikely to be any rush. It is probably why the auto-rickshaw drivers don’t have a problem with the prepaid system,” he said.
At the booth at Huda City Center Metro station, however, not all is going according to plan. On most days, drivers can be seen crowding around people coming out of the Metro station in spite of the booth.
Mittal said the main issue was the manual generation of prepaid slips, which took time. As a result of that, auto-rickshaw drivers have to wait longer to get their passengers.
“In the last three days, we have computerised the system of slip generation. Also, there were a few discrepancies in rates. They have been rationalised now. In the coming months, the traffic at the booth is going to increase,” he said.
Currently, the average number of daily slips generated at the booth does not exceed 200. Traffic police officers placed at the booth, however, said the number of daily slips could double if more men were deployed at the booth.
“We are just five people. And look at the sheer number of auto-rickshaws around this place. They leave the booth and pick up their own customers. The auto that depends on the booth suffers,” an officer said. “Besides, if we challan them, they thrust a Rs 100 note at us and challenge us to challan them. They don’t care. We can’t even force them or they end up lodging a complaint against us for harassment,” the officers said.
Arun Kumar, an auto-rickshaw driver stationed at Huda City Center Metro station, said, “There were over 10 policemen this morning and they penalised many drivers. No wonder very few are directly interacting with passengers today. But otherwise, what happens is that we keep standing in line while an auto, stationed elsewhere, ends up taking the passenger.”