Meter should be Down and not Jammed!

I personally feel Meter Jam is a brilliant initiative, the thought and attention requried to the issue of drivers refusing fares was much needed after the recent fare hike in tariff of auto rickshaw and taxis.

However, going by the registered number of RTO for the total auto rickshaw population which stands at 1.8 lakh I decided to do my math.

An auto rickshaw which works under two shifts fetches Rs.320 as rent. When we multiply the same figure with the total number of auto rickshaw population of 1.8 lakh, the rent for a single day operation only for auto rickshaw in Mumbai will amount to Rs.5,76,00,000.

(320 X 1,80,000 = 57600000)

During the recent strike which happened on two individual occasion the rent lost for two days amounted to Rs. 11,52,00,000 (Eleven cores, fifty two lakhs).

Just to remind you the figure Rs. 11,52,00,000 does not include any government taxes, revenues, or any other amount.

Just by purely looking at this if we head for Meter Jam we are not solving any problem but only losing out on lot of other things. When we strike the medium out, every industry and sector will be affected directly or indirectly. E.g If I stay at Worli and work in Andheri east like many other who travel for work, the situation will only get worse. The services of BEST in the area are uneven and since the entire area is under construction for Metro, we all heaviley rely on rickshaw and taxi to commute.

But the most important point that I wish to share that we as an individual follow and practise the wrong way of catching an rickshaw or taxi. We always tell the driver where we desire to go standing right outside the cab and wait for the drivers refusal.


According to the RTO, when you see a auto rickshaw or a taxi whose meter is up, all you have to do is call him and get inside the vehicle. It is once when you are inside you should navigate the driver for your destionation. In this picture the driver does not get a chance to refuse the fair since you are inside and if he does, you could call the traffic help line number.

An driver can only refuse the journey if his meter is half down, which implies that he does not wish to travel.

Looking at all this, I feel just because we are unaware about the guide lines and calling a self strike of Meter Jam is no right method of handling the situation and issue. We often criticize people who work for a good cause but adopt the wrong method and I strongly believe Meter Jam is a classic example.

As I type this, 28,886 people have liked what they are doing on Facebook, but for most of them its just a cool idea that is being done and it sound good to have a strike when people don't listen to you.

I positively feel had the same strength, enthusiasm and motivation of Meter Jam could have been used in a better way by educating the Mumbaikars which when looked on the scale of calling for self strike with a population of 1.8 lakh drivers verse the uncountable figure population of the city which is way above the drivers of entire Maharashtra put together.

This is where we could have created an impact where we educated passengers as various spots which would have not gone waste or could have been more valuable then just a one day Meter Jam self strike which will not have any positive value and impact to the city.

We should look at the vision of future by spreading awareness and educating but not by striking or Jamming them out. The one day Meter Jam strike will not be a victory but just a tablet pain killer to submerge the pain temporary. We should ideally be on look out for a win win situation for both the drivers and the passengers.

Thousands of people smoke inside the auto rickshaw and taxi and to stop that we will do a strike, hundreds of people cross their legs and put them on the drivers seat and to stop that we will do a strike, countless numbers of travelers will hand over a Rs.100 note for a basic minimum fare and expect the driver to be Bank and give them change after every ride - wow, they don't keep enough change, lets do a strike! Tomorrow there will be a day when things won't happen as you desire, so will striking help you achieve that???

If we follow the footsteps of Meter Jam blindly, we would some day become a striking state with jammed people.

"Smart people find solutions, Visionaries look beyond the obvious to solve the problem"- Mulchand Dedhia.


Rahul said…
Mulchand i agree with your view, calling out strike everytime is not a solution for a problem.a strike not only does creates a financial loss to the state & central govt, but it creates more problems for the comman man. Ppl as bieng responsible citizens v need to work out smarter ways to such problems so that it does not hinder the smooth funtioning of the state or the country's economy or affect d common man.
Genius said…
Very wisely said.
The point is that even if complaints are made regarding drivers who refuse, action is either not taken or is taken pretty late and in many cases forgotten. This is what irks many people.
Yes!, striking is not the solution because losses incurred in various other sectors are not mimimal at all!
I think that the initative though might not be able to make a Huge Impact, (because even though some might to an extent strike the autos but many are forced to travel whatever be the situation), still to an extent through this quite a few people have got to know about their rights and that people won't just remain quite and bear with the drivers who refuse fare.
parth said…
Thanks for bringing this to our attention. Many wont have the time to sit down and see the whole situation with this perspective.
If we ban the faster modes of transport.... all industrial sectors lose out on precious man hours. That is in no way a practical way of going about all this.
Shreyansh said…
Call me cynical but i dont see a feasible solution to this problem. A couple of so called "solutions" that have been mentioned here are not feasible. Most of the ricks have the meter half down, and we end up asking every rick that passes by. and if they want to come to the destination, they agree or else they keep moving. So whatever the posotion of the meter,people do end up asking the rickshaw to ply to the destination.
Also, getting inside the rick if the meter is up is not a solution as during rush hours one will never (or seldomly)find a parked rick.One wont risk their safety by jumping in a moving rick!

The only solution which i can think of, and which is being practised at many places, is of sharing the rick and cabs. Anyone who is travelling in a rick, should share it the those who are waiting for it.

Not sure if there are any other feasible solutions.
Ignoramus said…
Good to know someone thinks 'otherwise'... Now 'otherwise' generally doesn't mean 'correct' or 'right'... You must not havew travelled in an auto... I use the same technique you specified - sit and then tell him! The result - I've been kidnapped once, hit another time, ganged up by auto unions at another time, and left in the rickshaw by myself with the driver removing the keys and going home! To all who commented, we are not calling for a ban! We are just showing that if they can call for a strike, so can we... The strike isn't against an oppressed class, its against an obnoxious, rude, bullying group, which tampers meters, refuses senior citizens and ill people! And if that's not being responsible citizens, I do not know what is!
Ashish said…
well, i tend to be in a nonsupport to the argument of NOT striking for this matter. but my strike is not for the fare, (which is of course on of the major concern for me as i travel through rick for long distances and i had to move to trains because of the hike of minor Rs 2 in the fare, now if it moves to 19 as a min. which is almost the double, well i am surely not willing to pay that much amount of traveling.)

People say that once you have gotten into a rick with their meter being up, they cant refuse, but the ground reality is, they still do, and AND, you really don't have time and energy to fight for such a small thing while you are getting late for a meeting (that's exactly when one generally looks out for a rick right?). Now, the secont point is, it is a little insulting to get out of the rickshaw once you have gotten into it and the drives refuses to go where you want to go, so thats why we ask before getting inside the rick.

Point no. 3, after people are made aware of the rule that they CAN NOT SAY NO. in suburbs, at least, all the rick drivers are running with half meter. so now they can say no because they are driving at half meter. i know that they are not supposed to take a fare while at half meter because it conflicts with the interest of their customers to travel but it does suit them verywell as they can decide, NOW, which customers to choose from. HOW DO YOU TACKLE WITH THIS ONE NOW? you can not imply a rule which will not make them go half meter as that will not be humanitarian, but they dont understand humanity, do they?

i have seen them denying a 70-80 year old lady ALONE, on a rainy evening. is that humanity? and this is not 1-2 rick drivers, at least 10 of them. so if they really dont care about the customer, why should we?


THEY CAN STRIKE FOR PRICE HIKES when they were driving on petrol the fare was 9, when they are driving on CNG prices were still 9. they enjoyed their share of corruption and dadagiri ... what about us consumers? we just take their insults and spits and do nothing about it?


its not humanitarian approach, but in this, today's, world, TIT FOR TAT is what really works. its tried and tested by me and millions others. i think lets give them a big "jatkaaa" and tehy will wake up from their sleep.

OR, I BEG TO THE GOVERNMENT TO HAVE PRIVATE RICKSHAWS ... or just handover rickshaw department to private companies. at least we will have options. same as taxis ...
Ashish said…
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Ashish said…
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Ashish said…
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MD said…
I have been travelingin autos since past 10 years now! I never tell the autowala where I wish to go before I sit in.

If you were refused a ride, you should have noted the number, call the the RTO, you should have created noise.

A similar case that comes to my mind was when a lady traveler was slapped, she created noise, the Union president too a strong call on the driver, he and driver both apologized in froth of the Media.

Whats is the point if we adopt wrong methods to make things right?? isn't that wrong?

I just see this like any other political party who does lot of good things for Mumbai but in a wrong way.
ivor said…
This is a naive viewpoint. I've tried insisting on being driven somewhere by sitting and I've had experiences where cab drivers have driven me into slums and have threatened me. And I'm a journalist with better access to the authorities--I can only imagine the plight of the common man!

I think MeterJam is an excellent initiative--the basic idea is to communicate to the goons who run the auto and taxi unions that the common man can also hit back at their illegal, unlawful behaviour.

Felt very good today to refuse an auto driver who came after me for a fare and rather take a bus! And what a great ride it was!
MD said…
@Ashish : you really don't have time and energy to fight for such a small thing while you are getting late for a meeting - isn't this a commuters error, it just means that whatever wrong is going on let it go on and this is exactly why the Auotowala have become stronger! Because we let them become strong.

What is so insulting to get out of the rick if he refuse? I really wonder.

Every industry has a mix bag of people, they are cunning and there are saints!

I personally have spoken to 800+ autowala for Meter Down, and guess what no one in the world is born to be a cunning man.

Stand outside a bar/ lounge and see the kind of drunk ppl who get in the rick late night and the scene they create. I am sure we both will change our opinion for vice vera.

I truly agree, abt autowala refusing fares to seniors citizen, I, myself am a witness to it, but ensured that they got a rick.

Let me share a small e.g here,
let us assume a train just stopped at the kandavali station at 7 PM during the peek hours where a minimum of 100 commuters came out of the station. Here the autowala gets a choice when there are 5 ppl standing on his head and he will take a longest journey which will earn him a some extra money.

Why dint we first see that has the RTO issued new permits (which they stopped in 1998)so for every 100 ppl coming out of the train we have a minimum of 100 autos available for every train which halts at the station every 4-5 mins during the peek hour.

A small rectification for ur help, the fare prices were the same for past 5-7 years while the fuel prices increased year after year.

Prvt of transport will just mean one thing! cheating the customers. in the end again u and I will suree. We all know what happened to our electricity bills when the Govrt allowed prvt player to sell electricity in western subareas,

If u strike them out- I personally feel an eye for an eye rule of the modern world will make everyone blind.
robin said…
No one will learn any lesson no matter what the public do, no matter what the govt do!! They will still contuinue what they have been doing!!
Everyone is busy with their own lives not having time to think of some else, that's reality.
No one is ready to take any responsibility, it will infact haunt them.

So its just a temporary capsule for another headache. Live on my people of INDIA!!