Auto-rickshaw drivers demand base fare hike to Rs 36

Drivers demand hike in auto-rickshaw base fare from Rs 25 to Rs 36

Representative image. Credit: DH File Photo

Auto-rickshaw drivers are demanding the transport department hike the base fare from Rs 25 to Rs 36, citing a rise in operation cost as well as general inflation over the last three years. 

The fare was increased last in 2013 when the department hiked the base fare (1.9 km) from Rs 20 to Rs 25 and fixed Rs 13 for every subsequent kilometre.

When the fuel prices rose in 2019, some of the unions had sought a revision, but others opposed it fearing that more passengers may switch to aggregator-based taxis.

Autorickshaw Drivers Union (ARDU), affiliated to CITU, has written to the government, seeking that the base fare be revised to Rs 36 and the fare for every subsequent kilometre be fixed at Rs 18.

“Besides the cost of fuel and vehicle maintenance, a lot of things have changed over the last seven years. The cost of groceries to school fees and health services have all gone up. We urge the government to look into this issue and increase the fares immediately,” said C N Srinivas, general secretary, ARDU.

The demand has received support from Adarsh Auto Union even though it expressed concern over the effect a hike will have on passengers. “The need to revise the fare is essential, considering the plight of drivers. However, we are still worried about how passengers will respond to such a move in the wake of the economic crisis brought in by the Covid-19,” said Sampath C, general secretary of the union.

Interestingly, during the previous revision, the transport department had introduced a condition that the proposal for the next hike will be considered after two years or when the combined cost of fuel and lubricant oil exceeds Rs 70 per km.

“Most of the 2 lakh auto-rickshaws in the city run on LPG, whose price is estimated at Rs 49.85 per km. In addition, we spend Rs 15 per km on oil. Together, the cost is still at Rs 64.85 km. One needs to factor in the general inflation to understand our plight,” Srinivas said.

Sampath noted that the number of commuters has reduced after the lockdown. “Compared to the pre-Covid scenario, the number of people hailing autos has fallen drastically. A fare revision is now a basic necessity. We only hope it won’t have a negative impact."