HYDERABAD: Deserted bus-stops, absence of the familiar horn blaring from RTC buses, and a surprisingly smooth flow of traffic, one would think life of commuters in Hyderabad has become easier. However, reality presents a completely different picture as hundreds of commuters paying a heavy price due to the indefinite RTC strike.
While it’s no secret that autowallahs are charging through the roof, cabs have also followed suit as commuting prices have sky-rocketed across the city.
Maxi-cabs fares have been increased by 30 to 40 per cent, while motorcab fares have doubled in the city. Even though Radio taxis like Meru Cabs and app-based services like OLA and Uber have not changed their tariffs, other private cab services have significantly increased their fare.
Says Ethel Apeksha, who works at an MNC in Gachibowli, “I travel by cab everyday. These cabs are usually meant for call-centres and other offices in the IT sector but when they are not dropping the employees, they allow commuters to share the taxi to a certain location at a nominal fare. While every day it costs me around `20 to `30, they have now started charging `50 to `60.”
“MMTS stations are over-crowded. Cab drivers think they are driving limousines and autowallahs continue to fleece customers. How will the common man be able to travel in the city?,” fumes Ravi Sekhar, a maths lecturer at St Mary’s Junior College. “People are often in a hurry to get to work on time or to catch up with their appointments. These cab and auto drivers and preying on our vulnerability to charge exorbitant prices. What’s worse is that there is nobody to question or reprimand these people,” he added, scornfully.
In another unsettling revelation an NRI Krishan Rattan says that a cab service called Nikhil cabs charged him `4,000 for two days. “I needed a cab to pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel. For one-and-a-half days, they billed us `4000. Cabs in Hyderabad are more expensive than in New York,” said an amused Krishan.
When confronted, cab drivers defended themselves by claiming that the RTC strike has meant an increased influx of people taking cabs, which they are finding difficult to manage.
“We have a limited number of drivers and the strike has meant that hundreds of customers are lining up to use cabs. Our drivers are having to work double-shifts to accommodate everyone, so we have no choice but to increase our fares,” says Satish, a cab-service owner.