CHENNAI: The sudden strike resorted to by the transport department staff, on Sunday, came as a blessing in disguise to the drivers of autos and share autos, who had a field day fleecing the hapless customers.
Share autos drivers at the Central Railway station, who used to charge about `15 to take passengers to 5 km of distance, charged about `30 on Sunday. Stranded passengers had no choice but to pay the fare. Regular auto-rickshaws were even worse. Most of the drivers at Central Station refused to operate the meter and hiked the fares to unreasonable levels. A driver was seen demanding about `400 from a passenger to take him to Alapakkam - a trip that costs about half that amount on normal days.
A few, who had reached the city from other states had to wait long to get transport. “I waited for more than an hour-and-a-half. Since I did not see any bus going to Adyar, I had to call my family member to come and pick me up,” said Kalaiyarasi, a commuter.
A passenger S Swapna, who had to go to Virugambakkam that is barely 3 kilometres away from the bus terminus was charged `120. On normal days, it would cost less than `70. When the passenger questioned the rationale for the huge hike, she was informed curtly, that in the absence of bus service, it was but natural to charge extra.
A woman construction labourer said she ran out of all cash after having spent `300 to send her children to Villivakkam from CMBT.