The autorickshaw meter fare structure of Rs. 25 as minimum (for 1.8 km) and Rs. 12 per additional km fixed by the State Government recently after taking into account all the factors, happens to be the highest in the country and there was a pertinent need to ensure the enforcement of the same in Coimbatore as well.
Secretary of Coimbatore Consumer Cause K. Kathirmathiyon said that auto fare meter discipline needs to be enforced and the auto fare fixed by the Government for Chennai should be applicable to Coimbatore as well.
If the fare structure proves to be unreasonable, then the public would avoid using autorickshaws even if the meter fare is implemented. Mr. Kathirmathiyon said that size of the city and population can never be a criterion for demanding a higher fare than what was fixed for the State capital. Some unions claimed that the Chennai fare could not be fixed for Coimbatore for the reason that the size of Coimbatore city is small compared to Chennai.
This is totally illogical and unacceptable, Mr. Kathirmathiyon said.
Autos plying in a city could normally be in proportion to the population and area of the city. Coimbatore stands in 6th position in respect of population density i.e., persons per sq. km, next to Coimbatore is Cuddalore.
To go by the demands of the union, if Coimbatore required Rs. 30 as minimum fare then it should be Rs. 35 for Cuddalore and so on for 26 other districts in the State which were below Coimbatore in terms of population density. In such a case, the minimum fare has to be more than Rs. 100 in many districts such as the Nilgiris, Ramanathapuram, Perambular, Sivaganga, Dharmapuri and Pudukottai.
Further, other than district headquarters what will be the fare structure for smaller towns with a lesser population such as Mettupalayam, Pollachi, Karamadai and Karumathampatti. If the fare should be higher for Coimbatore than Chennai, then in all the others places, fare should be higher than Coimbatore.
Town bus fares
If this argument of the unions were to be accepted as right, then even town bus fares needs to be different for various cities, Mr. Kathirmathiyon added. If autorickshaws in nearby towns such as Palakkad could be operated at a minimum fare of Rs. 15 and per km fare of Rs. 8, why it could not be done in Coimbatore, he asked. The contentions of the unions lacked any logic and Mr. Kathirmathiyon wanted the fare fixed for Chennai should be enforced in Coimbatore also.
He also sought stringent measures to abolish the culture of auto stands. Whenever the Government announced auto fare, the unions declared in public that it was not acceptable and they would not use meter. Even though it was illegal, they defied the orders. Defying the meter fare had not helped the autorickshaw drivers in any way. In fact, the absence of meter fare only brought down the public patronage for autorickshaws, he added.