Fair or unfair? Mixed response to auto charge hike

The Cabinet decision to hike the autorickshaw fare has met with a mixed response.

Published: 10th December 2018 02:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 10th December 2018 02:12 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOCHI: The Cabinet decision to hike the autorickshaw fare has met with a mixed response. Though not satisfied, the auto drivers have welcomed the move while commuters, who are already at the receiving end with the indefinite online taxi strike, are a disappointed lot. 

The state government has given the nod to raise the minimum fare to Rs 25 from Rs 20 for 1.5 km. The decision was taken based on the report of a four-member committee headed by former High Court judge M Ramachandran.

Now, autorickshaws can charge Rs 13 for every kilometre after the minimum base. The fares for night travel and the waiting charge have also gone up.

While the fare hike will be a shocker to the common man, autorickshaw drivers think the raise will do little to relieve their misery.  They have been justifying their demand for an increase in fares citing the hike in fuel prices by 80 per cent. They also point out there is a 50 per cent hike in insurance rate, 40 per cent in spare parts expenses and 20 per cent in labour charges since 2014. 

"The hike will only be a temporary relief. Considering the daily expense, the minimum price should have been increased to at least Rs 35. Considering Kochi's traffic issues, our demand is reasonable," said  Biju K G,  district general secretary, INTUC auto drivers’ union. 


The fare hike has shifted the attention back to meters or the lack of it. "The drivers will come up with various excuses when we ask about the non-functional meters. If the meter is not working, how can we know how far we have travelled over the minimum limits?," asks Shwetha, a student. On the other hand, the auto drivers union is in favour of any legal move to check meters. "Passengers should take up the issue and start complaining. We support the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) or Traffic Police drive to check meters. If anyone is found flouting the norms, action should be taken," added Biju.
The MVD is also planning to start a drive to ensure the autorickshaws have installed functional electronic meters. "We have been receiving many complaints in this regard. With the recent hike, we'll start checking the auto meters soon,"  said an MVD official. 

Prepaid service 

Meanwhile,  many drivers have demanded setting up of pre-paid counters at major junctions across the city. The number of passengers who approach pre-paid counters on a daily basis in Kochi makes it a lucrative move. This is also believed to change the passenger's attitude towards auto drivers. 
"Prepaid will definitely make a change in the revenue. As it ensures at least 5-6 passengers every hour, we will be able to make good revenue," said Chakrapani, an auto driver.


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