Pre-paid Auto in Nashik. A distant dream?

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Will pre-paid auto in Nashik be always a dream? This is quite a regular question that cracks in the minds of Nashikars every minute they think of soaring the city to a level of cutting-edge modernization. Pre-paid auto rickshaw was considered to be a ground-breaking milestone that we had achieved a year ago. But the way rickshaw drivers have retorted to this new innovation in public transportation was not satisfactory even an inch.

The services were expected to improve d apublic transportation in the city where the local bus and auto rickshaw service is emaciated, especially on the suburban areas of Nashik. This new innovation in pre-paid auto was a utility for the residents of the villages around Nashik who can scarcely meet the expense of a bus service. There are a few taxies waging from the railway station to Nashik and from the city to nearby towns and villages, but they take the sovereignty of stuffing the vehicle with as many passengers as possible and charge them at an exorbitant rate. Weary of paying an outrageous amount to the taxies and rickshaw drivers, denizens of Nashik prefer to have their own vehicles. For others without a vehicle of their own, prefer a coach-class travel in an auto rickshaw that ply on selective routes and rates are fixed by their driver. Some city residents even prefer to hire a domestic auto rickshaw to travel whenever they demand for it. These substitutes that people have learned about in order to travel in and around the city are not concrete solutions to public transportation glitches.

Pre-paid Auto rickshaw booth outside the railway station

Pre-paid Auto rickshaw booth outside the railway station when launched

The railway station, which incidentally, handles 32 passenger trains, is used by more or less 25,000 passengers daily for alighting or boarding trains. The Regional Transport Office (RTO) had identified 20 locations in the city and fixed the tariff for pre-paid auto rickshaws. An organization, named Bharat Ratna Magasvargiya Sahakari Grahak Sanstha in Panchavati, took up the responsibility of operating the service and installed a booth outside the railway station and around 200 auto rickshaw drivers had registered themselves for the service. The new system had begun by undertaking about 50 trips daily. Girish Mohite, a member from the organization, who is running the service, said the response was good on the first day and is expected to increase in the future. He added that a few visitors and pilgrims at the pre-paid booth queried about Nashik Darshan Facility, which can be availed either by taxi or rickshaw or by a pre-paid service for Trimbakeshwar and Saptashringi Gad. This service was also taken into consideration by the RTO officials. This was a ray of hope for the citizens of Nashik once.

Travelling in Nashik becomes an impracticable task for a visitor. Moreover, the pilgrims and visitors who arrive at Nashik Road railway station are at the mercy of errant auto rickshaw drivers. Visitors and pilgrims have to persuasively use public transportation because the distance from railway station to the city is eight kilometres which is undeniably a not a walk-able distance. Hence pre-paid auto rickshaw were introduced at the Nashik Road railway station and was expected to aid the tourists and vivitors in the city.

Conversely, the whole body-building gradually faded away and the service is now in hashes. According to the agency operating the service, the reasons include dwindling participation of auto rickshaw drivers, lack of support by passengers, escalating petrol prices, lack of awareness about the advantages of pre-paid service and unhealthy competition between auto rickshaws participating in the scheme and those outside it. When the service was launched, the area near the railway station was exclusively reserved for auto rickshaws of the pre-paid service and other auto rickshaws were prohibited from entering a radius of 200 meters. However this norm was not trailed sternly. Our helpline numbers are not buzzing with complaints related to pre-paid auto rickshaws and the drivers were not plying by the meter, so the situation remains undistinguishable.

We are lacking in wakefulness of people and their motivation to monitor pre-paid auto in a factual manner. Gear up people!! Why can’t there be a shift in the perception of Nashikars? Why can’t we abide by the norms laid by our government? We are trying to consolidate the city to a contemporary urbane domicile to live in, so we expect sustenance from people!!! IF it can be a hit in all other major cities then why can’t it be a hit in Nashik? Or Will it always be a dream?

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