Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Many auto commuters see red

Many auto commuters see red

There were many arguments with auto drivers on Monday morning, as passengers got rude shocks when they paid the fares

Aparajita Ray and Shreyas Nag



Monday morning began on an unfair note for many Bangaloreans. On the first working day after the revised autorickshaw fares were introduced, many commuters felt that they were taken for a 'ride'. While many commuters who might otherwise have taken an auto appeared to have taken the bus, there were even some who were completely oblivious of the fare hike. Riding the auto was thus a bit of a rude shock on Monday.
At Jayanagar 4th block, a commuter was seen engaged in a nasty exchange with an auto driver. Not only did the driver refuse to show the middle-aged woman the new rate card, he refused to justify the Rs12 extra that he had charged, and started an angry tirade. "The driver said he would charge Rs12 extra, and when I demanded to know why, he started fighting," said the woman, flummoxed.
Chetana Satish, a lecturer, said that she had a cut-out of the new fare hike chart from an English newspaper. However, on Monday morning, she forgot to take the chart with her while rushing to college. "The auto driver did not have the rate chart. So I think I ended up paying some extra money. And I did not even have the time to just stand and argue with the driver," she said.
Unlike Satish, there were many commuters who were not aware that the new fares had already come into effect by August 1. "I did not know about the fare hike. I was going to pay the driver just as much as the meter showed, and then two other auto drivers stepped in and showed me the new fare card," said Glory, an office-goer.
Even those who did not ride on auto were not left unaffected. Students who regularly commute by bus noticed that the crowds in the buses were rather more than usual. Ravi Kumar GK, a student, said, "I took the bus on Monday, and it was no different for me because that is what I do everyday. Only, I usually get a seat on the bus; on Monday, the bus was jam-packed and even finding place to stand was hard."
Commuters worry that the auto drivers are getting rates cards that are not the ones issued by the RTO, and overcharging even though the appear to be showing commuters the rate cards.
Parvathamma was travelling with her sick child and elderly mother from Bowring Hospital. "My child is sick and I cannot wait. I feel helpless, what could I do but pay up, even though I knew it was an unrealistic fare?" she asked, having paid Rs50 for four km.
But there was the odd experience of fairness: "I took an auto to college. The driver showed the fare chart. The distance was less than two km, so I paid Rs17," said Divya Jain, a student.

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