Local populace feel the brunt of exorbitant auto fare, reports L. Srikrishna

Last week, a young couple from Patna, who arrived at Madurai Railway junction wanted to check-in at a business class hotel on West Perumal Maistry Street. The tourists, who arrived at around 5 a.m., specifically mentioned the destination to an auto driver, who dropped them and collected Rs 300 as fare. Not knowing that they were duped at that time by the auto driver, when the couple went through the brochure kept at the room about the “must see places” in Madurai and the distance map, they realised the trickster's cheap tactic. Though this kind of getting duped used to be told in a lighter vein among friends, it actually creates a bad image of the city among tourists, was how the hotel manager told The Hindu. Narrating more, he went on to say that the young couple expressed shock when they were informed that the railway station is just 300 metres away from the hotel. “My wife told me to get in touch with the hotel reception from my mobile phone on arrival, but I believed the auto driver's words….But only later I realised the trick,” he told this correspondent.

When the case was narrated, a traffic police officer admitted that “disciplining had to be done” . Meters for auto rickshaws should not be an impossible task and should be made mandatory, he agreed.

Who is empowered?

A transport official said that the district collector has the authority to convene a meeting comprising Transport Department officials and recognised unions of auto rickshaw drivers. When the top brass in the district administration and the police could bring in laurels for good conduct of the elections and maintenance of law and order in the city and district, implementing meters in auto rickshaws would only be welcomed by the users. By this, Madurai can also become a model for other cities in the State.

When asked for comments, auto drivers at Periyar bus stand had mixed response. However, they said that prior to fixing meters; many factors had to be considered. Consumers, especially, working women feel that meter system in autos would be transparent and welcome as in the present arrangement, the fares were double than the actual cost.

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