Wednesday, April 21, 2004

The auto menace

There used to be a time when one could safely gloat to visitors to town that Bangalore autodrivers were very honest and unlike their counterparts in Chennai would never take commuters for a ride. All that has changed and how! With the influx of a huge population (all geeks) who can't speak a word of the local language, auto drivers have become like a pack of vultures waiting, usually outside IT offices or pubs and cinemas, to pounce on unsuspecting customers. It is now not uncommon to hear them demand double fare from 8 PM itself, although they are permitted to charge a maximum of only 1 1/2 times the metered fare from 10 PM to 6 AM. With unknowing, flush-with-money geeks ready to part with anything that is demanded rather than haggle in a lingo that's lesser known to them than Greek or Latin, it is the Bangalorean who is taking a beating with autodrivers refusing to ply them as per the meter. And they offer to take you only to destinations that they want to go to! And threats of reporting them to the police don't work at all. Its high time this wayward brigade was hauled up. As if that wasn't enough the auto unions have been staunchly refusing to shift to digital meters which are difficult to tamper and a CNG fuel system. While rigged meters are fortunately not such a common phenomenon yet, the latter would do a world of difference to the city's pollution. Autos are the primary cause of Bangalore's foul air. With adulterated fuel being the norm rather than the exception in the city's autos most of the vile exhaust that permeate the city's atmosphere emanate from these 3-wheeled speed demons.


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