Special Correspondent

The step will ensure better monitoring of autorickshaw drivers

Computerisation completed at counters in the city bus station and railway stations Autorickshaws are not available at the designated booths Traffic police want the railway police to help regulate pre-paid autorickshaws

Bangalore: As some of the pre-paid autorickshaw counters opened recently have not been of much help, many autorickshaw drivers avoid going near them.

The traffic police have now started the process of computerising the pre-paid counters so that the autorickshaws can be better monitored. Computerisation has been completed at the two counters in the city bus station, those at the city railway station and cantonment station. The pre-paid autorickshaw counter on Mahatma Gandhi Road is to be computerised in about a week's time.

With the computerisation, details such as the vehicle number, time of booking, point of starting and the fare will be electronically recorded and stored, avoiding manual entries in a register. This means the police can quickly follow up any complaints from passengers.

The problem most passengers face is the non-availability of autorickshaws at the designated booths, especially on Mahatma Gandhi Road and the Kamaraj Road-Dickenson Road junction. Autorickshaw drivers may have their motives; these are upmarket commercial areas where people weighed down with shopping bags usually do not mind paying extra to get back home, especially late in the evening.

The situation is barely better at the two main railway stations. The police personnel stationed there can barely catch the attention of autorickshaw drivers and once made to stop and take a passenger little effort is made to settle on a fare, despite the pre-paid tag.

The police say this happens only in the case of trains arriving late in the night and not at other times.

For strangers to the city, the prospects of being asked to pay double or more than the actual fare is a common experience and this is where the pre-paid counters are supposed to help. Many arriving by night trains feel the counters at the railway stations should be functional at least till the last train arrives.

The city traffic police admit it is difficult for them to always make autorickshaws stop near the pre-paid counters and say they just do not have enough personnel for this. They also want to the railway police to help them in this regard at the stations.

The railway police say the system is working moderately well even now and at the city station up to 1,000 bookings are made each day. It remains now to be seen whether computerisation will help or if the auto drivers will continue to give a wide berth to the pre-paid counters.