‘The counter remains closed because of lack of revenue for the agency operating it'
The pre-paid autorickshaw counter at the KSRTC bus-stand in Bejai has not been working for the last few days. This counter is among the two pre-paid counters started by the district administration on October 2, 2011.
“This counter has not been working because of lack of revenue for the agency operating the counter. It (the agency) is not getting revenue to pay the salary to the person manning the counter. We are rethinking about running the counter,” said Regional Transport Officer C. Mallikarjuna. The administration was also considering changing the agency, he said.
The pre-paid autorickshaw counters were opened at the KSRTC bus stand and at the Mangalore Central Railway Station simultaneously. Mangalore Association of Travel Agents (MATA) was assigned the task of running the two counters. “The association is getting revenue at the Railway station, but not at the bus stand,” Mr. Mallikarjuna said. The operation of the counter had been closed for nearly 15 days just after two weeks of its launch in October.
“Was it operating at all,” questioned Prashant Hegde, a resident of Car Street. Mr. Hegde said he had hardly seen the counter operating in the last few months.
“In fact I got to know about the counter only recently. Usually I come out of the bus stand and catch the available autorickshaw,” he said. There was need to operate the counter systematically, he added.
Autorickshaw driver H. Ganesh attributed the poor response to the pre-paid counter to its location. “It is located at a corner.”
Most passengers, according to him, head straight to the main gate of the bus stand and often the pre-paid autorickshaw counter goes unnoticed, he said. Moreover, Mr. Ganesh said, the KSRTC officials refused to allow autorickshaws to park their vehicles near the portico of the bus stand.
“This (parking there) used to help us to pick up passengers, come to the counter and proceed,” he said.
To this, KSRTC Divisional Traffic Officer Sreeram said decision to bar parking of autorickshaws near the portico was done following a representation received from autorickshaw drivers themselves. “The autorickshaw drivers complained that some drivers picked up passengers without going through the pre-payment system. We are ready to restore it if it helps operation of the counter,” he said.
President of MATA Roshan Pinto did not agree that the pre-paid counter was not running. “Yes the revenue has been poor. But it is not closed,” he said and added that the counter has been getting average revenue of Rs. 70 per day. “It is open between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m. and between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.,” he said initially and then said, “We find more customers during this peak period. Rest of the time there will be hardly any takers for the service.” The counter however remained closed when The Hindu cross checked his claim on one occasion. On another occasion, it was open but there was nobody to man the counter.