Avinash, a businessman, who arrived by the Bangalore Express from Chennai, paid Rs. 380 for his ticket, but coughed up a whopping Rs. 220 to reach Koramangala from Cantonment Railway Station by an autorickshaw, as the pre-paid counter was closed.

With the intention to put an end to the woes of commuters, a pre-paid autorickshaw counter came into existence at the Bangalore Cantonment Railway Station a few years back. However, the counter does not serve the needs of the public, since the closed counter welcomes the weary travellers after 6.30 p.m., commuters allege.

“Travellers are put to hardships as the counter closes at 6.30 p.m. Many trains reach the Cantonment railway station after 6.30 p.m. and when passengers approach the pre-paid autorickshaw counter there is no one to help,” said Avinash, who experienced a harrowing time. The autorickshaw drivers refuse to ply short distances from the station and also demand more money from the passengers, he alleged.

According to the sources in the railways, nearly 1,500 commuters use the pre-paid auto counter daily, and the counter should be open from 6 a.m. to 10.30 p.m. Ironically, the counter remained opened on Monday, when around 80,000 autorickshaws were off the city’s road following a strike call.

Autorickshaw drivers also prefer to take passengers from outside the station and charge exorbitant fares. “While they do not park their vehicles near the counter, the vehicles are seen parked in double lane and triple lane in front of the railway station,” said Lakshmammal, a priest from Chennai.

“The railways should display a notice board with details of distance and corresponding pre-paid fare from the railway station. Strict action should be initiated against early closure of the counter,” he urged.

“Drivers harass us by demanding Rs. 120 to Fraser Town from the station. The early closure of the counter results in scuffle between the public and autorickshaw drivers,” said Rajendra Prasad, who arrived from Arakonam on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, an official at the Cantonment Railway Station acknowledged that they had several complaints against the early closure of the pre-paid autorickshaw counter. “We have instructed our staff to visit the counter and we will take suitable action against the counter staff,” the official said and added that cases would be booked against the autorickshaw drivers if they refuse to go on hire. People should contact us and file complaints, the official said.

When contacted the Railway Superintendent of Police R.S. Harihar said: “We will look into the matter and initiate suitable action regarding the issue.”

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