Amblee Ashwin, an IT employee residing in Mylapore, hopped into an autorickshaw on Monday morning, anticipating a less expensive ride. Much to her chagrin, she ended up having to haggle with the driver again.
Though the government had announced that the revised fares of Rs.25 for first 1.8 kilometres and Rs.12 for every additional kilometre would come into effect from Sunday itself, none of the autorickshaw drivers followed it.
“I usually take an auto when I am late for office and pay around Rs.150. Despite the new system in place, the autorickshaw driver sought the same amount. So, I took the MRTS,” said Amblee.
Other commuters said that in the coming days, the drivers should not adopt measures to tamper the meter. “Chennai is famous for manipulated meters. The RTOs and police should ensure that this does not happen,” a commuter said.
Meanwhile, some autorickshaw drivers were sceptical about the new fares helping them earn a good income. “We now charge nearly Rs.50 for two kilometres. But we will be earning around Rs. 27 under the new tariff system. This is insufficient considering the cost of petrol and the wastage of fuel while waiting in traffic,” said Ramesh, an autorickshaw owner and driver.
He said that even if the drivers use the meters, they will be forced to ask the commuters for more. “Out of the 70,000 autorickshaws plying in the city, nearly 70% are operated by drivers who need to pay their daily rent to the owners of the vehicles. In the case of those who own vehicles, there is the problem of repaying vehicle loans, which have exorbitant interest rates,” said Ramesh.