Despite the large geographical spread,Pune has only two prepaid autorickshaw centres despite high demand for such reliable and commuter-friendly facilities.
Lack of joint efforts on the part of RTO and Traffic Police coupled with poor support from the MSRTC resulted in closure of the prepaid autorickshaw centre at Swargate recently. It was found to be economically unviable.
The centres at Pune Railway Station and Shivajinagar bus stand have been operational since August 2012 and March this year respectively. Another centre,which was the initiative of autorickshaw unions,has been operational in Lohegaon area.
Speaking with Newsline on Wednesday,Clifford head of private firm CSIT that facilitates two prepaid autorickshaw centres in the city said demand for more such centres can be met only if public authorities extend their support.
Different government authorities have to take their share of responsibility and render desired support. The prepaid autorickshaw facility at Swargate had to be shut down due to lack of coordinated efforts. The signage for prepaid centre placed at Swargate bus stand for the benefit of passengers was damaged. Various requests to transport authorities for making formal announcement about prepaid centre for passengers were turned down. Any public-centric facility cannot survive without government support, he said.
Places like MG Road,Deccan,Patil Estate and Kothrud depot are good for setting up prepaid autorickshaw centres, Clifford added,citing examples of Bangalore,Hyderabad,Indore and Agra,which have ample prepaid auto centres.
Supporting the demand for opening new centres,Nitin Pawar,convenor of the Rickshaw Panchayat,said such centres could become economically viable if autorickshaw unions are taken into confidence.
Unions were left out when prepaid centres were reintroduced last year after a long gap. We want more people to opt for prepaid centres as the facility is secure and reliable. Our only demand is that we should be consulted as we are one of the stakeholders, he said.
Pune RTO Arun Yeola said his office had no objection in opening new centres provided the facility runs on a sustained basis. Traffic cops have to play a crucial role in the success of such centres. Policemen should be deployed at the centres and protect them from autorickshaw drivers not willing to be a part of the facility, he said.
DCP (Traffic) Vishwas Pandhare said his department is rendering all possible support to prepaid auto centres.