BENGALURU: Hit by the invasion of app-based cabs, autorickshaw drivers in the city have raised their pitch for introducing shared auto services to draw commuters.
“If the Transport Department is allowing Ola Share and Uber Pool in violation of rules, then why are they rejecting only our demand for share service?” questioned general secretary of Adarsh Autorickshaw Drivers’ Union C Sampath.
With cab operators like Ola and Uber slashing their rates, commuters have ignored autos of late for a hassle-free experience. Post demonetisation, more people are opting for e-payment options over cash.
In cities like Hyderabad, Chennai and Kolkata, shared autos are quite popular. “We have recently written to the Transport Department to allow shared auto services in select routes like Outer Ring Road. Shared autos will have more seating capacity and less fares than normal autorickshaws. We are also working on an auto meter for shared autos that generates bill for individual passengers,” said Sampath.
At present, minimum auto fare for the first 1.9 km is D25 and D13 for every subsequent km. “Shared autos can offer a minimum fare of D10 per passenger and also can drop the passengers at the exact location along the route which would be more convenient than BMTC buses,” added Sampath.
Sources say illegal shared autos are plying on several routes in the city, including K R Market—Jagjeevanram Nagar, Shivaji Nagar—Tannery Road, Gangamma Circle—Singapura Layout, Vijayanagar— Moodalpalya and also in areas like Electronics City and Goripalya where BMTC services are poor.
Rudramurthy, general secretary of CITU-affiliated Autorickshaw Drivers’ Union says shared auto is the need of the hour. “We are facing tough competition from cab aggregators like Ola and Uber. The government should allow us to operate shared autos along the Metro corridors and other stretches”.
Transport Department officials, however, maintain that stage carriage permit in the city is BMTC’s exclusive right and no other private operator is allowed to pick up or drop passengers. With all of 6,155 buses, BMTC is meanwhile struggling to cater to the burgeoning demands of the city and shared service might work as a two-pronged reprieve for both city autos and BMTC’s depleted fleet.
When contacted, Additional Commissioner for Transport H G Kumar said, “Transport Department is waiting for a response from the Centre to take a decision on car-pooling. We will also consider whether shared autos are feasible”.
The city has a total of 67.74 lakh vehicles, including 1.37 lakh taxis and 1.72 lakh autorickshaws. “Most people are taking private vehicles because of high bus fare and poor frequency of BMTC buses. I’ve travelled in shared autos in Chennai which are cheap and frequent. But government should ensure the safety of the passengers,” says K Swathy, a regular commuter in Koramangala.