Coimbatore autorickshaws rev-up fares in faceoff with private players

“Our competition is with inflation,” autorickshaw drivers say

January 30, 2024 07:33 pm | Updated February 01, 2024 06:55 am IST - COIMBATORE

Autorickshaw fares in Coimbatore are at an all-time high with drivers charging ₹50 per km.

Autorickshaw fares in Coimbatore are at an all-time high with drivers charging ₹50 per km. | Photo Credit: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

Base fare for autorickshaw rides increased from ₹50 to ₹75
Revised base fares for three specific routes in the city:
Five km radius from Gandhipuram bus stand: ₹250
Mettupalayam Road to Avinashi Road: ₹420
Vellalore in the south zone to Thudiyalur: ₹550

Metered autorickshaw drivers in Coimbatore are preparing to implement fare increase on select routes in February, citing the need to cope with escalating costs and living expenses.

According to T. Manikkam, a representative of the Coimbatore District Autorickshaw Workers All Association Joint Committee, the base rate for an autorickshaw ride has now been increased from ₹50 to ₹75. The committee has fixed separate rates for three main routes too.

“Commuters travelling within a five km radius of Gandhipuram bus stand will have to pay ₹50 more as the new standard fare, resulting in a new base fare of ₹250,” he added.

Similarly, commuters travelling from Mettupalayam Road to Avinashi Road, particularly the PSG College of Arts and Science area, will see a hike of ₹70, setting the revised minimum fare at ₹420. For those commuting from Vellalore in the south zone to Thudiyalur in the north zone, the fare will be up by ₹100 pushing the total rate to ₹550.

Rising cost of living

However, with private players offering economical alternatives to these autorickshaws, questions arise about the viability of such fare hikes.

“Given the rising cost of living, the profitability for private autos is very low. But our rates are always in tandem with how much it costs to survive in the city. It costs around ₹15 for just a cup of tea today. House rent, cost of groceries and even school fees have increased over the years. Therefore, our competition is with inflation,” says P. Ramesh, a driver in Sai Baba Colony.

Target customer

Despite potential resistance from commuters due to the price hike, autorickshaw drivers believe their target customer base, including school-going children, teachers, office-goers, commuters to railway stations and bus-stands and customers around Old Post Office Road will continue to provide steady business.

The drivers’ association aims to capitalise on the loyalty of their existing customer base, for whom the revised rates will not apply, rather than focusing on acquiring new customers.

R. Thangamma, a higher secondary school teacher who travels to school by auto, feels, “Despite the price, I will continue to take a normal auto because when we book private autos, the number plates are usually different from what is displayed in the app.”

Several people also raised concerns over the demands of private auto drivers to cancel rides and pay upfront to avoid paying companies a fee. “They also charge an additional fee of up to ₹50,” a frequent commuter said. V. Shantha, a parent of an elementary school student, said.

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