Under tight security, a smooth ride for others on day one

Ever since the start of toll collection on NH 7 (Bangalore-Bellary Road) from Friday midnight, airport taxi drivers have been up in arms, questioning the need for toll on a road that is reeling under the chaos of the elevated expressway construction.

“The road is not signal-free, and with the expressway construction its condition is pathetic. How can they justify toll for such a road?” said taxi driver Dinesh Kumar.

Taxi drivers told The Hindu they would resist the toll till the elevated expressway was constructed. “Car suspensions need to be changed frequently, and tyres routinely get punctured due to the condition of the road,” said driver Nadeem Ahmed.

Having to cough up Rs. 25 per trip singes their pocket, the drivers said. “We do three trips per day, which works out to Rs. 75. Most passengers refuse to pay, so we end up paying,” said Mr. Ahmed.

Cutting into lunch

An unintended effect of levying toll on vehicles entering and exiting the airport is that lunch becomes an expensive prospect for the drivers.

“We can't afford to eat in the BIAL canteen every day. Before the toll, we would drive to Chikkajala for the cheap food there. However, now, with toll being added, it makes no sense to travel out for food,” said Mahesh.

Security tightened

Meanwhile, over 100 policemen, including two Karnataka State Reserve Police platoons, were posted at the toll plazas to ensure the incident-free toll collection.

With eight booths at the plaza, it was a smooth ride for those returning from the airport. The only hiccups, said a toll manager, were a few irate taxi drivers who vented their frustration.

“Many commuters were confused about the fee structure. A few drivers thought it was Rs. 20 per trip and not Rs. 25, and a few others assumed a pass was valid for the entire day,” he said.