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Madurai commuters hit hard by rise in fuel prices

D. Karthikeyan
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“It has given yet another reason for rising autorickshaw fare”

Every time there is a rise in fuel prices it has hit the people hard, especially the middle classes as they are the ones who mainly use two-wheelers or autorickshaws. The recent price rise of Rs.5.29, the ninth instance in a year, has resulted in people to mull over on their everyday commuting.

“People who take autorickshaws fear the most as they now have to shell out more,” Daniel, Retired Assistant Engineer, Tamil Nadu Electricity Board, who came by an autorickshaw to the Mattuthavani Integrated Bus Stand, said. “I earlier used to pay Rs. 100 to the bus stand from my residence in Jaihindpuram, but today I had to pay Rs.130, I had no other option but to pay Rs.30 extra.” The government should regulate the fares or bring in the meter system,” he said.

One could also see the ambivalent people on the bus stand moving here and there carrying luggage, bargaining with the autorickshaw drivers and also at the same time keeping an eye on town buses that enter the bus stand.

A few autorickshaw drivers in the city seem to have come to terms with the increase in fuel prices and appear to have decided not to seek a hike in the minimum fare. K. Bhoomi Rajan, president of Azhagu Muthu Kone Auto Stand, Mattuthavani Integrated Bus Stand, said, “We are yet to increase the fares and it is really tough to manage, and we do not know how long we can do this.”

Pre-paid autos

“There is no pre-paid autorickshaw system in place. Earlier when we had it, there was no problem and even the commuters were happy but I don't know why it was stopped. The authorities should bring back the system,” a resident said

However a group of autorickshaw drivers who were standing at the entrance and exit points of the bus stand said that they had increased the fares by Rs. 20 to Rs. 30, but still we are not able get that money from the passengers who bargain hard. “The economic situation has changed and the drivers cannot charge the same rate fixed by the government,” says an autorickshaw driver from Anna Nagar, Senthilpandian.

Some of the commuters say the latest increase has given yet another reason for these drivers to charge extra, “No driver uses meters and in most cases the meters are defunct,” says college student Gayathri.

K.Vellaichamy, an autorockshaw driver at KK Nagar Stand says, “Everyday, we get a mixed number of customers who understand our problems and pay a little more than the fare while most do not.”

But in most cases our return rides are empty these days as most people opt for alternatives such as share autos, mini buses and buses. Highlighting the fact that the petrol prices have greatly hit the middle class, K.Subramanian, a businessman from Anna Nagar, said that it is time the government concentrated on fuel conservation and promoted it in innovative ways, especially among younger generation.

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