People in a few pockets of Chennai are enjoying ‘fleece-less’ rides by auto rickshaws. Sound bizarre? Actually, the advent of share autos has made it possible.
Facing tough competition from the white coloured share autos, several auto rickshaw drivers in the city are plying their three wheelers on lines of share autos during office hours. Charging hardly one fourth of the regular fare, a few auto rickshaws are operating as shuttle services between important junctions of the city.
“I take passengers from Saidapet to Alwarpet and Shanthi Theatre on a per head basis during rush hour,” said Ramasamy, a driver at Saidapet. “I demand `30 from four individuals, who are willing to share the available space inside the vehicle. This is beneficial for both the travellers and drivers,” he added.
The city is witnessing in a spike in the number of share autos in the last three years, wherein the vehicles had made inroads into every nook and cranny of Chennai and its suburbs. This has eaten into the business of the existing auto rickshaws that were once considered to be the most sought after service, next only to Metropolitan Transport Corporation fleets.
Interestingly, a couple of auto rickshaw stands have jumped on to the bandwagon of the ‘share concept’, luring the passengers like the one situated diagonally opposite to the Loyola College at Nungambakkam.
About 50 three wheelers in this stand are welcoming with a smile, commuters alighting from the nearby railway station, to drop them in any neighbourhood for just `15.
“Despite having switched over to the share model seven years ago, we are still going in full steam. This is thanks to the mushrooming share autos, which have almost ruined the livelihood of every auto rickshaw driver,” Anand, a driver at the stand rued. He alleged that the white coloured share autos are plying without appropriate licenses for the purpose.
A traveller who is employed in a private mobile phone operator service on Haddows Road underlined that it is a welcome change among the passengers.
Apparently, the share auto turned auto rickshaws are covering most of the parts of North Chennai, linking Beach railway station with Vyasarpadi, Royapuram and various other localities. According to estimates, 62, 000 auto rickshaws and over 2000 share autos are running in Chennai.