While some pre-paid auto stands wait for a formal revision of fares, others have begun hiking fares themselves.
A day after the steep hike in petrol prices, commuters resigned themselves to the blow on their monthly budgets and stepped out of their houses, anxious about how difficult the daily commute would be. While the heat kept many people in their homes in the afternoon on Thursday, by evening, the streets swelled with vehicles.
Many motorists had filled their tanks with petrol on Wednesday night, hoping to save a little before the hike. While many petrol bunks received barely any patronage even during the peak hours, a petrol bunk in Meenambakkam received quite a large number of vehicles.
T. Govindarajan, an auto driver, resting a tree on G.N. Chetty Road around 3.30 p.m., said he had made only Rs. 200 since morning. “I ask for Rs.10 more but if they don't pay, I cannot refuse ,” he said.
At the prepaid auto rickshaw stand in Central Station, the attendant said they were charging the usual rates. “They have come and collected the details of rates we collect now. Maybe in two or three days, we will get the new fares. But until then, the old rates will hold well,” he said.
A couple of women who hired an auto rickshaw from Beach Station refused to pay Rs. 60, which the auto driver asked, for a trip to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. “We have been paying only Rs. 40 so far. So why would we pay more,” the woman commuter asked.
Late in the evening, Jenisha waited at a bus stop near Vivekananda House with eight children in tow increasingly worried as it was getting late. She flagged down several auto rickshaws hoping to find someone willing to take her Alandur. One driver quoted Rs. 250 while another said Rs. 350. One of the children piped up, “We should have taken the first auto itself. Even a trip up to Guindy is okay,” she appealed to the driver of another auto rickshaw.
A co-commuter said, “Now that they have hiked the price of petrol, even those with the means would hesitate to get into an auto rickshaw. How can people like us, with little means, even think of it now?