If you had gone to Mandaveli railway station a few months ago to park your motorcycle, you would have struggled to find some space to squeeze in your vehicle. Visit the parking lot now, and you will be happy to find plenty of space at your disposal. But your happiness will last only till you buy the parking receipt.
The scooter you had parked a month ago must have cost you Rs. 4. Now you have to pay Rs. 10. And for cars, the fee is even more – Rs. 15 for 4 hours and Rs. 90 for a day. The cyclists have to pay Rs. 5 for 12 hours.
For scooters, the monthly fee has gone up from Rs. 150 to Rs. 300.
Initially the attendant attributed the dwindling number of vehicles to the fee hike, but later he said he was not sure. The area was closed for the past 25 days, he said and hoped commuters will start coming after knowing that it is open now.
Babu, who regularly parks his TVS XL, says Rs. 300 is too much for him. "I can afford Rs. 200," he says.
Another young man who seemed to work in some IT firm wanted the hike to be even less.
When asked for the reason, the parking attendant said the Railways had increased the tender value of the parking area. In proportion to the number of vehicles being parked there, the tender value had also gone up.
Apart from the hike, there is also another issue at the parking lot: in the evenings the area is without electricity making it difficult for commuters to take their vehicles. For women, it is also a problem of safety.
The attendant expects power connection in a couple of days.
Without hiking the rail fare, it seems the Railways has found other ways of filling its coffers.