Unions want minimum fare to be fixed at Rs. 30 for a distance of 1.5 km
Even as the autorickshaw trade unions in the city are waiting for the Government to consult them on the fixation of the meter fare structure for Coimbatore, a group of 30 autorickshaw drivers on Devanga High School Road, near Brooke Bond Road, have come together and commenced operation of their vehicles as per the meter fare.
Within a few days, the same group of auto drivers were waiting near the City Police Commissioner’s office and the Collectorate to present petitions stating that they were being intimidated by those who are opposed to the idea of operating by the meter fare.
The group identifying themselves as ‘Auto Drivers Kuzhu’ have started operating their autorickshaws at the rate of Rs. 25 as minimum fare (for a distance of 1.8 km) and Rs. 12 for every additional km.
The waiting charge for every five minutes is Rs. 3.50 and the night charges from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. will be 50 per cent in addition to the meter fare, says M. Nazir, secretary of the group.
Meter is designed to record the number of waiting minutes and the fare goes up by Rs. 3.50 when the waiting time touches a total of five minutes.
This was the fare fixed by the State Government for the autorickshaws in Chennai.
The Federation of Autorickshaw Workers moved the Madras High Court and obtained an order stating that the fare structure for Coimbatore should be fixed in consultation with the recognised autorickshaw unions.
However, for the last few days, autorickshaw drivers on Devanga High School Junction have been operating by the fare fixed for Chennai and have got their meters recalibrated from a local meter distributor. Most of the autorickshaws have already been affixed with the sticker “Auto Auto” and a small board indicating that the minimum fare is Rs. 25.
According to Mr. Nazir, the fare structure was proving to be viable for them and was able to make a profit of Rs. 1,000 to Rs. 1,200 per day and that too taking into account the passengers boarding the autorickshaws at the stand even if the return trip was empty without a passenger.
He added that when there is a meter fare, there is an increase in the number of people opting for autorickshaws turning it viable.
Mr. Nazir added that they have got a regular clientele of nearly 50 people who regularly avail their services. “Plying by the meter fare, we are able to rope in more passengers who were otherwise opting for call taxis for even short distance travel,” he added.
When asked, CITU Autorickshaw Union leader P.K. Sugumaran said that autorickshaw workers of established trade unions were waiting for the Government to consult them on fixing the fare as directed by the Madras High Court.
Asked about the rationale behind asking for a higher fare structure than Chennai, Mr. Sugumaran said that the size of Chennai city and its population was much bigger when compared to Coimbatore and the viability definitely makes the claim for a higher fare justifiable.
He added that the unions wanted the minimum fare to be fixed at Rs. 30 for a distance of 1.5 km and Rs. 15 as fare for every additional km.
Mr. Sugumaran said that the fare structure fixed for Chennai is being implemented by a group here and is likely to cause unrest among the autorickshaw drivers who are waiting for a reasonable fare to be fixed for Coimbatore.