CHENNAI : Auto drivers get the worst of the bad road situation in the city. Share autos are one of the main forms of transport in North Chennai, covering the 13km stretch between Tiruvottriyur and Parrys. The battered Tiruvottriyur High Road and adjoining roads are affecting the health of share auto drivers.
Unlike the four-wheeler share autos plying in South Chennai, the ones in North are three-wheeler vehicles. As per data, 6,500 three-wheeler share autos operate in North Chennai. These vehicles, the drivers say, have small wheels and hence, lack stability.
“A shock absorber costs `2,000, and I have to change three every month as they wear out quickly due to bad roads,’’ said D Ganesan, who shuttles between Tiruvottriyur and Beach Station. He added that replacing a punctured tyre costs him `1,000. Bitumen in the five-kilometer TH Road has worn off completely while there are just stones and no asphalt. This has also caused severe health issues to share-auto drivers. Ganesan said that he has been having severe back and lower abdominal pain for many months now. Even commuters prefer MTC to autos, he said.
‘’Commuters feel the MTC can withstand the bumps and potholes. Fearing that we many not have multiple trips, we tend to overcrowd autos to make some money,’’ he said. According to a para-transit study by Chennai City Connect, 96 per cent share autos in the city are rented. The average rent per day is `540 and fuel expenditure is `200.
The study also revealed that 82 per cent of share auto drivers are married and of them 74 per cent have four to five members in the family. The average working hours is 14 and their income is `700 daily. Auto drivers said due to bad roads, patronage has taken a hit. Pon Vel, who shuttles between Tondiarpet and Beach Station, said he earns `300-500 per day of late. Out of the sum, he pays a minimum rent of `250 to `300. ‘’Three years ago, riding for 12 hours, we used to take earn around `1,000 to `1,500. Now, it is just around `500 People will trust share autos only if roads are smooth. We cannot bring four-wheeler autos to North Chennai as unions will not agree. So, we hope the road is repaired soon,’’ he said.