Ranchi, Feb.1: Prepaid auto rickshaw service, which was started from January 1 at Ranchi Railway station and from May 1 last year at Hatia Railway Station to get rid of arbitrary fares charged by some of the auto-rickshaw drivers as well as to help women passengers to reach their destination safely is yet to become popular.
It was realized after talking to Railway Protection Force (RPF) officials operating the Pre-paid auto rickshaw kiosk round the clock. While a RPF official at Hatia said hardly 1000 passengers use the pre-paid auto rickshaws in a month, another RPF official said the number of prepaid auto rickshaw users at Ranchi is hardly 6000 per month.
“The number is too low in comparison to the footfall at Hatia and Ranchi Railway stations. I don’t think less than 25000 footfalls per day at Ranchi Railway station. Similarly, the figure at Hatia is not less than 12000,” a RPF official said.
“Most of the passengers reaching Hatia are either low income group people or from higher income groups. To receive higher income groups cars often come to the station while lower income group people prefer taking auto rickshaw on share to minimize their expense. In this situation, demand for prepaid auto rickshaws has reduced,” the RPF official said, citing the reason behind the less popularity.
Another RPF official at Ranchi station cited different reasons for less popularity of pre-paid auto rickshaws.
“Apart from the mentality of taking auto rickshaws on share and calling someone with a car, e-rickshaws, Ola bikes and Ola Taxi besides unregistered auto rickshaws are coming as a hurdle before popularity of pre-paid auto rickshaws. Drivers of e-rickshaw started negotiating with passengers from the platform and before a passenger could reach the pre-paid auto-rickshaw kiosk they finalised the deal. Though passengers having no idea of route often had to pay more than reasonable fare and sometimes they land in trouble when their luggage goes missing from an unregulated vehicle, the number of prepaid auto rickshaw users is not rising,” the RPF official said.
Prabhakar, a resident of Harmu, supported the observation saying if prepaid auto rickshaw had been popular in Ranchi, a guest of my locality would not have lost valuables.
“On January 27, an e-rickshaw driver dropped a lady guest at Harmu chowk around 9.15pm. The lady forgot to unload her luggage. A trolley bag containing some ornaments and cash remained unloaded. As the e-rickshaw driver went, the lady realised her mistake. All attempts have been made to locate the driver taking his picture from CCTV, he could not be traced so far. If prepaid auto rickshaw had been popular this would not have happened,” he said.
President of Jharkhand Pradesh Diesel Auto Chalak Mahasangh Dinesh Soni, who admitted the situation saying he has planned a meeting with the RPF officials to do something to make the prepaid auto rickshaw more popular without hampering the interest of drivers operating Ola Bikes, Ola Taxi, e-rickshaw and share auto rickshaws.
“I, as a leader of auto rickshaw drivers, also want all auto rickshaws and e-rickshaws to be regulated. This is not only in the interest of passengers but drivers too,” Soni said.
The amount paid as travel fee under this prepaid auto service system has been determined under a certain standard as a result of approval from the District Transport Department. In case of any inconvenience, passengers can register their complaint by contacting 139. Auto booking is done from the counter. Booths have been built for this. A passenger is expected to pay first.
The rates for autos operating from prepaid booths have been fixed according to the route and distance. Under this, a minimum of Rs 100 and a maximum of Rs 300 are being charged from passengers for booking.