There’s a need to regulate share autos

Share autorickshaws are parked haphazardly on the road causing traffic congestion in front of Flower Market in Madurai on Tuesday.

Share autorickshaws are parked haphazardly on the road causing traffic congestion in front of Flower Market in Madurai on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: S. James

Safety of the passengers a concern

Overcrowded share autorickshaws carrying office-goers, schoolchildren and the general public is a common sight in Madurai. Though they violate rules and regulations, share autos have become the most sought-after mode of travel to reach every nook and cranny of the city.

People do not have to go to a dedicated bus stop or bus stand for boarding a share auto. Just a wave of hand is enough to bring a share auto to one’s service. Commuters like Thavamani, a worker at a canteen in the city, says that it is convenient for her to use a share auto. She stays in an interior area of Othakadai. Earlier, she had to walk up to the main road to catch a bus to reach her place of work.

Since the share autos are plying even to the interior areas now and are charging comparatively less, she says, she prefers the share auto to the bus.

However, these autos have started causing nuisance for the public. Only a few share autos in the city have permits. Also safety of the passengers commuting in these vehicles is a concern. Share autos sometimes pose a threat to two-wheeler riders and motorists. Whenever the share auto drivers see people standing by the road, they immediately bring the vehicles to a screeching halt, even if it is in the middle of the road, complain other vehicle users.

RTI activist Hakkim Kasim says there has been a significant increase in the number of share autorickshaws, which has also led to a reduction in bus routes. There is absolutely no regulation of share autos and their routes have not been defined, he adds.

The bus stops have turned into share auto stops as they enter the bus parking bays and block way for the buses. According to a reply to his RTI application, he says, though hundreds of share autos are plying on the streets only seven have got permits.

This means a huge revenue loss for the State government. As the helmet regulation – it is not strictly implemented though – has brought about some change in the public, plying of share autos should be regulated, he says.

It is not that people want share autos off the roads, but there has to be regulation. Introduction of State-run mini buses like in Chennai can be a welcome option, says S. Sampath, State joint general secretary, Retired Transport Employees Federation, and coordinator of Pensioners’ Confederation.

The High Court Bench has passed several orders time and again and has ordered appropriate action against those violating the rules, which included carrying a prescribed number of passengers.

P.S. Suresh, a motorist, says the police and the Regional Transport Officers should work in tandem to crack down on the share autos plying on the roads without permits. The eyes of the auto drivers are not on the road. They only look for passengers standing by the roadside and this causes traffic hindrance, he says.

Joseph Nixon, Assistant Commissioner (Traffic), Town range, says that traffic police are on a constant vigil against rule violators. Stringent action is being taken against those involved in rash driving, drunk driving, stopping vehicles in bus stops, autos from other districts plying on city roads and permit violations. Awareness programmes are also conducted for the drivers, he adds.

Madurai District Integrated Ape Auto-drivers Welfare Association president R.P. Chandrabose says that only the share auto drivers are being targeted. Private vans, buses and even lorries are illegally increasing their capacity and plying on the roads, he says. Recently a share auto driver committed suicide due to ill-treatment by police personnel. This is just one instance. If there are separate bays for autos or regulation in place, we would definitely follow them, he adds.

Kutty and Mahendran, both share auto drivers, agree that they do accommodate more passengers than the permissible limit, which is illegal. But, they say that it is the question of their livelihood and they have to feed their families. “Even passengers prefer the share autos. We don’t know any other occupation apart from this for our livelihood,” they say.

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Printable version | Mar 28, 2020 9:29:01 PM |

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