K.V. Prasad

Hire autorickshaws at own risk

COIMBATORE: It appears that autorickshaw drivers are not as apprehensive as their unions of public resentment over a fare raise. They have begun asking for more than the already exorbitant fare, citing increase in the price of fuel.

From a minimum of Rs.20, a two to three km ride will cost close to Rs.30 if passengers are in no mood to bargain. It can get reduced to Rs.25 if the driver has been languishing in the stand without business for long hours.

Inquiries with autorickshaw drivers reveal that they have increased the fare and that many of them are in no mood to accept the theory that a hike will bring greater public resentment. Their contention is that when the Government takes no initiative to revise the fare, they are forced to increase the fare to meet rising costs of operation.

The drivers also admit that the public are not perturbed anymore when autorickshaw fare increases. With call taxis as an alternative mode of public transport, there are very few passengers who opt for autorickshaws.

Union's demand

The Coimbatore District Autorickshaw Workers' Union feel that the alienation of autorickshaws by the public will be total if the fare is increased. It has called upon the Government to fix as minimum fare for Coimbatore district, the current rate of Rs. 20 charged here.

But, citing fuel price hike, the drivers demand Rs.3 to Rs.5 extra even for distances less than two km. When it is pointed out that the union had been hesitant to charge extra, the drivers claim this is an "unofficial" increase over a fare that does not have the sanction of the Government.

They blame the situation on non-revision of the Rs.7 minimum fare by the Government for nearly two decades.