BANGALORE: Known fact about Bangalore: Commuting in the city is a pain for various reasons. Traffic jam is one, steep fuel prices another, and then there is this mammoth called public transport. Those who use auto rickshaws on a regular basis maybe in for a rude shock as the minimum auto fare could probably see another hike soon. “At the moment the minimum is Rs 17 and the per kilometre we charge is Rs 9. We can barely provide for our families with the money we make. Inflation has hit us as well. The rent for the autos and the cost of insurance for the same have also gone up. How do we make ends meet with the peanuts we make? We have asked the minimum fare to be raised to Rs 20 and the rate per kilometre to be increased to Rs 10. We are going to hold a meeting in the first week of February to discuss the issue. If the government does not do anything about our requirements, we might even hold a demonstration at the end of the month (February 28) to make our point,” said M Manjunath, president of Adarsh Auto Union. He further added that one of the reasons the auto fare is higher in Bangalore is due to the fact that autos here run on LPG. “Autos in Mumbai and Delhi run on CNG. Whereas we run our vehicles on LPG. The difference in the fuel prices is the main reason behind the higher rates we ask for,” he said.
Over the last six months petrol prices have fluctuated four times — Increasing and decreasing twice since September 2011. “In a city like ours, travelling is difficult. The night before the fuel prices are about to hit North, one will see a serpentine queue of a minimum of 20 cars outside each petrol bunk -- as though everyone is trying to make the most of the price and the fuel available before the change is implemented,” says Nikhar, a pre-school teacher. She further adds that if that is not bad enough, more often than not many petrol bunks shut shop until the fuel prices are revised. “Another cause for concern is the long hauls at traffic signals and the slow moving vehicles on arterial roads. Thanks to our never ending jams, one has to stall and that results in more fuel consumption. You can’t even switch off your car as the motorist behind you will start blaring his horn the moment he sees a little movement ahead on the road,” says a distressed Nikhar.
Meanwhile, the efforts made by authorities to discourage the use of private vehicles may have yielded some fruits, but it’s a far cry from what they really envisioned when they introduced women’s special buses to additions to the already existing fleet of Volvo buses. “I do not mind travelling by the BMTC buses. In fact they are convenient. Using my car on a daily routine is turning out to be an expensive affair. Even though the diesel rates have seen a hike, thankfully the ticket prices have not seen a drastic change,” said Shyam, a software engineer who uses the bus to commute from his home to work everyday.
The metro on the other hand is a fast and efficient mode of transport, but unfortunately connectivity across the City is a distant dream that looks a little hazy.
“Once the Bangalore Metropolitan Rail Corporation Limited (BMRCL) completes all the phases, commuting across the city and within will be easy. I recently used the Metro from M G Road Station to Ulsoor. I could not believe how quickly the Metro got me to Ulsoor Station. I hope the Metro work is completed soon. Then, traffic jams and its related problems like commuting time and stress too will reduce ease out,” she added. Until then, shell out more to travel in the city.