BENGALURU: Hailing an autorickshaw in the city is a tedious task for commuters as many auto drivers either refuse to ply, charge exorbitantly or ask for extra on the meter fare. Traffic police records suggest that the number of cases booked against auto drivers for refusing a ride and overcharging have dropped, but commuters say the situation is the same.
Statistics from Bengaluru Traffic Police show that the number of cases booked against auto drivers for demanding excess fare have reduced from 13,104 in 2014 to 10,591 in 2015. Traffic police are mostly dependent on footage from CCTV cameras to book violators because of staff crunch. But offences like demanding excess fare or refusing to ply can’t be booked through CCTV footage.
Excuses given by auto drivers to charge extra include one-way stretches, traffic congestion, and dysfunctional meter.
Additional Commissioner of Police (traffic) R Hitendra said, “The incidence of violation by autorickshaws cannot be measured by cases booked by Bengaluru traffic police. Traffic police capture a certain percentage of violations, not all.”
Commuters say that decline in number of cases booked against errant auto drivers is an indication of poor enforcement of rules. “Getting an auto in the city is becoming difficult. Many auto drivers demand Rs 40 as minimum charge and they refuse to ply short distances. Earlier, auto drivers used to ask for Rs 10 extra on the actual fare but now they demand Rs 30 or more,” said R Swathi, a regular commuter on Cubbon Road. “I avoid taking an autos now because cabs are cheaper,” she said.
While app-based cabs have come as a relief for commuters, senior citizens who are not familiar with the operation of such services, are at a loss. “BMTC buses are crowded during peak hours and there are no share autos here. I normally wait for more than half an hour to get an auto as some drivers demand double the fare and most of them just refuse to ply,” said 75-year-old Vijayalakshmi, a resident of Koramangala.
She said traffic police should set up more prepaid auto counters to prevent auto drivers from fleecing commuters.
Rudramurthy, general secretary of the CITU Autorickshaw Drivers’, said some policemen ask for bribes and impose fines without reason. “We are struggling to make ends meet. Some policemen harass even those auto drivers who don’t cheat commuters.”
A traffic police official said they are taking action against auto drivers based on complaints. Sources said a majority of auto drivers booked for overcharging or refusing to ply are booked in the west division as S Girish, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic-West) has been conducting several drives against errant auto drivers. More than 1,000 autos were seized in the last two months.