Bengaluru: No pre-paid facility at Cantonment railway station, auto drivers loot pax

Mohammed Arif, a painter, had to rush to Gowripalya urgently, and was checking the auto rates.
Shots of back entry of Bengaluru Cantonment railway station
Shots of back entry of Bengaluru Cantonment railway station(File photo | S Lalitha)

BENGALURU: With the pre-paid auto and taxi facility at Cantonment Railway Station closed to facilitate massive redevelopment work, passengers alighting here are completely at the mercy of auto drivers.

The old cubicle near the main entry (PF-1) for pre-paid service stands partially demolished due to construction work. It’s been a month since a small temporary room was built, but is yet to start operations. The back entry (PF-2) does not have pre-paid facility.

An average of 55 pairs of trains, including long-distance ones, pass through the station each day, with close to 30,000 passengers using it.

Autodrivers appear to have formed a cartel, with a fixed starting rate of Rs 200 for any destination, and have done away with the meter. A family of four from Coimbatore alighted at the station from the Lokamanya Tilak Express and wanted to reach Shivajinagar, just about 1km away. The driver demanded Rs 300. Satish, a businessman, told TNIE, “We have always paid only Rs 80. We argued with him and he finally relented and agreed for Rs 150. But for our luggage, we could have walked.” They tried booking an Ola cab which would cost them Rs 170, but the cab driver cancelled the ride, and they decided to walk till the main road to hail a regular auto.

Mohammed Arif, a painter, had to rush to Gowripalya urgently, and was checking the auto rates. “Everyone was demanding Rs 200. Normally, I walk to Shivajinagar and pay Rs 15 for a bus to Gowripalya. I was in real hurry and tried to get an auto, but Rs 200 is a huge amount for me,” he said. Navya and her mother, who arrived by the Jolarpettai Passenger, agreed to dole out Rs 200 to go to Vinayaknagar. “The actual rate is Rs 120,” Navya fretted. Many passengers, on hearing the rates, tried to hurriedly book a trip through any cab aggregator but only some were successful.

A Government Railway Police (GRP) cop said, “The pre-paid system was closed three months ago. I have been hearing for some time that a new counter will open. I am also waiting for it.”

Neither Railway Protection Force nor GRP cops showed any interest in helping passengers in the face of such extortion. Senior Divisional Commercial Manager, Bengaluru Division, Krishna Chaitanya told TNIE, “The pre-paid system will be ready in a week.” A senior RPF official, too, said steps are being taken to start a new system soon.

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