Autorickshaws that are supposed to carry only three passengers continue to function illegally as share autorickshaws by carrying more than six passengers in many parts of north Chennai. Drivers here have also increased fares, inconveniencing hundreds of residents who depend upon this mode of transport.
In several areas of north Chennai where the frequency of MTC buses is poor, people depend on these vehicles to travel to places in and around Tondiarpet, Moolakadai and Vyasarpadi. Hubs of share autorickshaws include Purasawalkam, Parrys, Beach Railway Station, Royapuram and Tiruvottiyur.
Passengers said that a few years ago, the minimum charge for travelling in these autorickshaws was Rs. 3, but now drivers demand Rs. 5 or Rs. 7 for less than a kilometre.
“I remember when travelling from Doveton junction to M.R. Nagar cost just Rs. 7. Recently, the fare has been hiked to Rs. 20. We end up spending a whole lot of money,” said Narmada, a resident.
Autorickshaw drivers said they doubled fares after the number of passengers was restricted to four. “Share autos ply on the same permit as that of regular autorickshaws. Most ferry six persons, with two on either side of the driver,” said Sivasamy, an auto driver.
S. Ezhumalai, president of Chennai Suburban Share Autorickshaw Drivers’ Union, said the mini door (Force) vehicles painted yellow and black are the original share autorickshaws, and the government has permitted only 197 such vehicles. “The fare was fixed at Re. 1 per kilometre and this has not been increased to date. We have requested the State to increase the fare,” he said.
D. Irudhayanathan, president of Dr. Ambedkar APE Autorickshaw Drivers’ Union said fares have not been increased in other parts of the city. “The transport department has asked us to carry only three passengers and we are adhering to this. Some vehicles ferry more than three passengers. This is illegal,” he said.
Transport department officials said they would soon take action against illegal share autorickshaws across the city.