Officials have geared up to contain the menace posed by share auto drivers

Transport department officials, in coordination with the Traffic Police, are determined to regulate passengers travelling in auto rickshaws and share autos.

In a ‘novel’ effort, all the three RTOs (Regional Transport Officers), namely Madurai North, Central and South, have started the practice of having the permitted number of passengers painted on the vehicles. “Three passengers only,” will be displayed on the vehicles in the hope that it would raise public awareness of the hazards of overloading. Motorists and road users have expressed concern over rash driving and over loading by rickshaws on the Facebook page of the district administration.

According to officials, out of 10 complaints received every day, at least four to five pointed to the share auto menace. The civic issues, which normally dominates Facebook, were pushed to the second spot, they pointed out. Surprise checks and impounding vehicles for repeated violations was stepped up in every nook and corner. However, the mushrooming number of autos on the roads is a challenge to the authorities.

Autorickshaws will not be eligible to receive Fitness Certificates unless they abide by the three-passenger rule, officials said.

Public opinion

While the officials are determined to regulate the auto drivers, public cooperation is essential, a traffic police officer at Periyar bus stand said. However, many commuters, while welcoming the move, feared that autorickshaw drivers would overcharge the passengers. “For us, a difference of Rs 10 daily means Rs 300 per month…We are daily wage earners in a pappad factory in Jaihindpuram”, a passenger said.

Many office-goers, who use auto rickshaws to reach their destinations faster during peak hours, wanted the police and transport department officials to strictly enforce the three-person rule. Overcrowding in autos sometimes gave room for miscreants to misbehave with women, they claimed.

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