Autorickshaw drivers across the city celebrated 'Courtesy week' from February 1 to 9. As part of the celebrations, the drivers pledged to be courteous in their behaviour towards commuters. However, unfortunate as it seems, the Thane RTO received seven complaints during this period. Residents, too, claimed that they failed to notice any difference in the behaviour of the auto drivers towards them.
"Although, usually, very few residents avail of the complaint facility. The celebration week witnessed complaints coming in against faulty meters, rash driving and rude comments," says Hemangi Patil, deputy RTO.
The Thane Auto Drivers' Union had planned a campaign to create awareness among auto drivers to be good and offer their services with a smile. "Because of a handful of ill-mannered auto drivers, all of us have earned a bad reputation. But, we want the residents' perception about us to change. Hence we decided to the kickstart this campaign. We hope this way auto drivers understand the importance of good behaviour towards customers," says Vinayak Surve, president, Thane Auto Drivers' Union.
"There was no change in the behaviour of the auto drivers in this period. In fact, I had a particularly horrible time travelling in an auto rickshaw recently. I flagged an auto from my residence in Brahmand to go to Mulund check naka. As he was nearing the check naka, the auto driver took a sharp right turn towards Wagle Estate. I started shouting and screaming asking him to slow down. However, as it was early in the morning, around 6:30am, there were very few people on the street. Luckily for me, a traffic cop forced him to stop after hearing my shouts," says Bharti Sinha, a resident of Brahmand.
"In such cases, we withdraw the licences of auto drivers and if there are faulty meters then we hold back their license till they get their meters changed. With so many autos out on the streets, it sometimes becomes difficult for us to keep an eye on them. Hence, we need residents to help us by complaining against these auto drivers," adds Patil.
"When we complain about their meters giving a wrong reading, these auto drivers reply in a harsh manner. They also pass comments and some stare at us through the mirrors over their head. There also have been instances of auto drivers refusing to ply or not having any change. Every resident must have faced these problems and someone needs to monitor the ever increasing number of auto drivers in the city," says Shruti Naik, a resident of Thane.
"We had launched an awareness campaign, hoping that better services will be offered through the year. Few stray bad incidents does not mean that all of us are similar," says Surve, in lieu of the complaints that has been lodged against auto drivers during the celebration week.