Recently the Delhi High Court has given approval to installation of GPS/GPRS devices in auto rickshaws in the capital, saying it will make commuters safe. Previously, a number of rickshaw drivers filed a petition against the policy citing that the cost of GPS installation is unbearable for them. Auto-rickshaws in Delhi will have to pay Rs 13,500 upfront for the GPS and printer. TheGPS device is selected by the Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System Ltd. However, the bench dismissed the petition and stated that the reduced installation cost would put no burden on the petitioners. The bench is also of the opinion that installation of GPS/GPRS would create a proof or evidence of the route taken by the auto rickshaw driver. Furthermore, the court order has permitted auto-rickshaw drivers to charge 50 paise per kilometre built up in the fare itself, which the court says will help recover Rs 7,500 from the cost of equipment installation.
While opposing the GPS installation in autos, the auto rikshaw union leader stated that the government had made a commitment to install GPS in buses, but it has not been done so far. First, the government should install this system in DTC buses, then it should think of autos and taxis. Amidst all this hoopla around GPS installation in India, several countries across the world have declared the installation as a policy mandate. Countries like Russia, Cuba, USA, etc. are at the verge of launching GPS in public transport for enhanced travel experience for commuters. Brazil’s National Traffic Council (CONTRAN) issued a new resolution that says all new passenger cars and trucks will require telematics systems like GPS installation by the end of 2011. The rule applies to vehicles built in Brazil and those imported into the country. India on the other hand is still skeptical about the feasibility of the tracking idea and is still, toying with the benefits of tracking technology. As a result, whenever it comes to the implementation of the policy, the delay in decision making from the government’s end leaves the suppliers with cold feet.
In June 2012, similar to Delhi, Goan tourist taxi owners vehemently opposed the GPS installation in the vehicles and the govt. plan to install the device to prevent fleecing of tourists and passengers in the state was stalled. In 2010, Pune Mahanagar Parivahan Mahamandal Limited (PMPML) had floated tender inviting agencies to sponsor GPS for city autos, as PMPML officials were aware that the cost of GPS installation would be unbearable for auto rikshaw drivers. However, in that scenario also no one came forward for the rescue. Now, the question remains is why a particular section is so very against theinstallation of GPS in their vehicles, even when the Court has given the verdict and shown the way out. The lack of awareness alone cannot be blamed for opposing the GPS installation. It is the comfort of non traceability and tracking which persuades the auto walas to go against the idea totally. Overcharging, rash driving, taking long routes, etc. fetches the auto walas the money they want and that too without any restraints. Sooner all the stakeholders understand that GPS installation in public transport is need of the hour and is inevitable in every sense, better it will be for India.