Getting autos a pain in Bengaluru, union bats for strict enforcement

General Secretary of Autorickshaw Drivers Union (ARDU) Rudra Murthy said that drivers refuse rides and demand excess money as the fares do not align with the price increase.
Getting autos a pain in Bengaluru, union bats for strict enforcement
Express illustration

BENGALURU: With the government fixing metre fares in autorickshaws and auto drivers not being able to refuse rides or go against the metre reading, they have begun shelling out extra money from passengers every time they commute. The fleecing has forced travellers to complain against auto drivers who charge exorbitant amounts even during non-peak hours and when there is no traffic jam. They urged the police to conduct drives to fine erring autos.

Banumathi, a septuagenarian, who resides in Kumaraswamy Layout said, “I regularly visit my relatives, attend family functions, go for shopping, and visit the hospital for health checkups. Because I am not accustomed to using auto-booking apps, I usually head out of my flat and depend on autos that ply on the road. In majority of the rides, auto drivers do not go by the metre. They randomly demand money, which is nearly double the metre.”

Banumathi is not the only one facing the situation but throughout the city, people of all age groups who depend on autos for commutation.

General Secretary of Autorickshaw Drivers Union (ARDU) Rudra Murthy, who accepted that many auto drivers are refusing to go on rides or follow the metre said, “After the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), autos are the largest public transport provider. Despite the city having more than 1.5 lakh autos, people are not able to rely on them.”

He, however, said the situation can change if the state government opts to revise auto fares annually. “Annual revision of auto fares is a common occurrence in the world’s major cities. Drivers refuse rides and demand excess money as the fares do not align with the price increase. In the last decade, auto fares have been revised only twice.”

He said, “We want the government to hike the fare from the existing Rs 30 for the first 2 km to Rs 40 and the current Rs 15 for every subsequent kilometre to Rs 20. We urge the government to hike fares annually according to the Wholesale Price Index (WPI).”

While the price hike alone will not help improve the situation, educating and sensitising auto drivers to follow rules and a strict enforcement of laws by the police against erring ones will help, he remarked.

Replying to complaints by customers that the ride-hailing app Namma Yatri, with whom ARDU is associated, is allowing bookings only after a tip is given to the driver, Murthy denied it. He said, “It is up to the passenger to pay a tip or not. Irrespective of the tip, their bookings will be accepted.” Joint Commissioner of Traffic Anucheth was not available for comments.

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