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    This monsoon, RTO may crack down on auto fare refusals Many Mumbaikars complained of fare refusals by autorickshaw drivers during the pre-monsoon showers on Saturday evening, and experts feel this could just be a precursor to the ‘harrowing time’ road commuters can expect during rains. A senior RTO official said the department is likely to launch a fresh drive to curb refusals during monsoon. Commuters’ problems are expected to compound with poor frequency of BEST buses and kaali-peeli taxi population dwindling over the past few months. “We have found that 5-10% auto and taxi drivers refuse fare. Nearly 90% of them are proved guilty as we also have the complainants’ mobile numbers and summon them as witness during hearings, ” said a deputy transport commissioner. RTO sources said every year, 60% of the complaints against auto and taxi drivers are about fare refusals, and a maximum of them are during the monsoon months —June and September. Statistics show that over 15, 000 complaints were registered against errant auto-taxi drivers at the four RTOs in the city in past seven years, and the most common grouse was fare refusal. Saturday evening saw long queues at bus stops outside most railway stations as the BEST bus frequency was poor and automen refused to ply commuters. “I got drenched as I five auto drivers refused to go to my destination, ” complained Rohan Gaikwad, who lives in the eastern suburbs. Same was the case for aggregator cabs as they were few in numbers. “Auto drivers who refuse passengers and leave them stranded in the rain should be imposed with penalty and their permit/licence should be suspended, ” demanded transport activist G R Vora. But automen claim that they refuse passengers only in case of personal emergency. “We refuse commuters if we have to take a lunch break, fill fuel or go home after a shift, ” said an auto driver. As for BEST buses on road, statistics show the fleet size has reduced from 4, 200 a few years ago to 3, 300. “In the name of cost-cutting, the BEST has discontinued several routes, ” said transport analyst Hussain Indorewala. Source: TOI, Somit.Sen@timesgroup.com
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