With 2019 Lok Sabha Elections knocking on the door, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi has approved recommendations of a fare revision committee to hike auto-rickshaw tariffs by Rs 1.50 per kilometre. The Delhi Cabinet has also revised the meter-down charge of Rs 25 per two kilometre to Rs 25 for 1.5 kilometre, in a bid to woo around 90,000-odd auto-rickshaw drivers ahead of the General Elections 2019 due by May.
Speaking to media, Transport Minister Kailash Gahlot said, the revised charges will be implemented after the Transport Department's notification. The revision of fares for other modes of public transport, including Gramin Sewa and eco-friendly Sewa are also in the line, the minister added.
Being asked about LG Anil Baijal's stance on the development, Gehlot said fare revision is not a reserved subject and, hence, there is no need for the approval of the Lieutenant Governor. Sources, however, claimed that the transport department cannot issue notification for fare revision without the approval of the Lt Governor.
The existing auto-rickshaw fare in the national capital is Rs 8 per kilometre which has been raised to Rs 9.50, leading to an increase of 18.75 per cent. The auto-rickshaw meters will be re-calibrated to charge the revised fare. The auto fares were last revised by the then Sheila Dikshit government in 2013.
The decision to approve the hike in auto fares is considered to be the AAP's attempt to woo its vote bank ahead of the General Elections 2019. After voting AAP to the power in the year 2013 and 2015, a section of the auto drivers gradually became disenchanted with the party over various reasons, including non-revision of auto fares and no check on cab aggregators. This was evident after the AAP fared way below its expectations during the civic polls in 2017.
Apart from tariffs and base fare, other demands of the fare revision committee include a hike in the waiting charges from current 50 paise per minute to 75 paise per minute and removing the cap of minimum wait of 15 minutes. Rs 30 per hour (50 paise per minute) is currently chargeable when an auto is completely stationary after first 15 minutes.
As per recommendation of the committee, waiting charge of 75 paise per minute will be applicable if an auto is kept waiting by the passenger, or it's stuck in traffic or moving at a speed of less than 6 km per hour during heavy traffic. The existing night and luggage charges have been maintained by the revision committee.