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Authorities in a fix over auto fare structure City pulse

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FLOUTING NORMS: Autorickshaws plying without electronic meters in Tiruchi.
FLOUTING NORMS: Autorickshaws plying without electronic meters in Tiruchi.

R. Krishnamoorthy

None seems inclined to display chart cards depicting fares between various points

TIRUCHI: Willing to enforce, but hesitating to implement forcibly…

This is the predicament the officialdom in the district finds itself in when it comes to implementing the new auto fare structure warranting fixation of electronic meters in autorickshaws.

Though the norm was put in place earlier this year, instances of auto operators fixing electronic meters in and around Tiruchi city are far and few in between, and in most cases, the metres exist only for name sake.

But, none seems inclined to display the chart cards depicting fares between various points in the city in accordance with the new system wherein a fixed fare of Rs.14 could be charged for the first two km and Rs.6 for every additional km. The waiting charge is 40 paise for five minutes. The auto operators can charge 25 per cent more during night hours. While new auto-rickshaws only have to get the electronic metres configured as per the new rates, the old ones should be fitted with new meters that are stated to cost between Rs.2,500 and Rs.4,500.

Time limit

The last that was heard of the issue was when officials held a few rounds of consultations with consumer organisations and fixed a time limit for auto operators to fall in line. Though officials have acted on a few specific complaints since then, there has still been no change in the pitiable plight of consumers, by and large.

Periodic checks

The transport authorities do conduct periodic checks and insist on electronic meters while issuing fitness certificates. But, surprisingly, they disappear when the autos get back to business. As things stand, the role of the police does not get beyond imposing fines on autos that err on counts of overcrowding and rash driving.

The onus on making the new fare system fructify is more on the transport authorities.

The stand of the auto drivers has been that the rates should be determined on the basis of local factors such as proliferation of autos and auto stands, the small radius of the city due to which the autos can make money only on one-way trips, and the difficulties they face due to the digging up of roads for implementing the underground drainage system.

Consumer organisations disagree with the automen’s viewpoint and say that there is abundant scope for high patronage once the fare system is rigidly adhered to the city since a chunk of the passengers would prefer to avoid overcrowded buses if they are assured of hassle-free travel in autos without the need for bargaining.

Compulsory

At present, people hire autos only in very compulsive situations, points out M. Sekaran, Convener, Federation of Service Organisations, citing the instance of hundreds of passengers, who alight in droves from the Tiruchi-Thanjavur buses at Ariyamangalam, avoiding autos and putting up with the difficulty of travelling in overcrowded city buses instead of travelling towards Chathiram Bus Stand.

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