Is it fair to demand 'extra' fare?

Public ignorance

H N Sadashiv, a retired engineer, had just arrived from Bangalore by train. No sooner he came out of the station, an autorickshaw stopped in front of him. A septuagenarian, he was well aware of auto drivers, who often ‘demand fare’ rather than going by the meter.

Sadashiv asked ‘Siddappa Squarege hogbeku, esht aguththappa’ (how much fare will be charged for Siddappa Square). The driver, who by then had seen an easy to be deceived passenger in the elderly man, who was also alone, put forth the charge- ` 30.

Sadashiv was obviously shocked, as he had paid ` 22 for the same destination earlier. When he recalled the same, the auto driver curtly replied- ella rate jaasthi aagtide saar, neeve elliddira, 30 rupaiginta ond paisa kammi illa (The prices are spiralling and it seems you are not aware of that. I can’t drop you for anything less than the said fare). The scorching sun who had already made a senior citizen like Sadashiv develop fatigue, forced him to settle for auto man’s demand.

This may be Siddappa’s story, or for that matter; any one else’s! People in some cases would have tried to test their luck scouting for autos that could ferry them for a reasonable amount, only to give up later. But, it’s only a few, who dare to protest the transport operators adamant attitude.

One such person who showed temerity to complain against such auto driver recently, was a college-goer.

Sushmitha (name changed) called for an auto only to suffer the shock of her life, when the man at the wheels abused her for the simple reason that she refused to heed to his demand.

She narrated the ordeal she underwent, on phone to a police officer, who collected the details related to the vehicle. Subsequently, the three-wheeler was tracked at a particular place and the driver in question was summoned to the station.

Now, it was the turn of the cops to go into a tizzy. The auto driver sans driving licence, had been on the job for several years. This is just a tip of an ice berg where in other cases, the autos run without any valid documents.

Likewise, there are several instances, where the passengers have shown exemplary courage in bringing erring auto drivers to the doors of the police station. But, the woes continue to exist, thanks to the auto men who have become non-chalant, said a police officer on condition of anonymity.

It doesn’t mean, at least the meters fixed at the autos can be fair. The situation has reached an alarming stage, where it has become hard to believe what’s the exact truth- whether the meter or the demand? You may have ended up paying varied fare, according to the meter, for the same destination after taking different autos. Aren’t the meters the same? may be your next poser. You are true, but those who handle the meters differ, tampering with the device helping auto men pocket extra penny.

Here’s an another example, where the auto men stick to their ‘demand’, even if one insists on the meter.

They initially try to come out with reasons like-the meter has gone defunct or it’s reading exorbitant and that could be more than the demand, etc., In some cases, only the cable remains to be seen, while the meters will be invisible. Even if the passenger/s sing the same tune and prefer meter, what will happen is as follows: they will be taken on a detour and will be forced to shell out the same amount.

Can the authorities help us find a solution?

Officers speak

It was in 2010 that the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) revised the fare on the lines of Bangalore, following a huge demand from the transport operators. Accordingly, the minimum fare saw a rise of ` 15 from the previous ` 12 for first 1.7 km, with Rs nine fixed for every km against ` eight in the earlier case, According to the statistics available with the police, there are about 12,000 autos plying in the city, said RTO Siddappa Kallera.

The Department of Legal Metrology is planning for an intensified drive from April in association with Traffic Police.  In some cases, upon the severity of violations, criminal cases have been booked, but the illegal act on the part of auto men continues unabated, said assistant controller G Thimmarayappa.

Any complaints? Call... 
ACP (Traffic)                          9480802214        
Inspector (Devaraja)            9480802248
Inspector (K R)                      9480802249
Inspector (N R)                     9480802250
PSI (N R)                              9738440011   
PSI (V V Puram)                    9480802262
PSI (Devaraja)                      9448757031   
PSI (Laskhar)                       9906229847
PSI (K R)                              9448632968   
PSI (Kuvempunagar)            9448322869

Fine fixed by police 
For demanding fare          ` 100/  ` 300       
Refuse                              ` 100/ ` 300
Not possessing DL             ` 500
No insurance                      ` 500
Owner                                ` 1,000   
Excess passengers            ` 100 /passenger

Cases booked
Not possessing DL           206
Drunk driving                   85        
Reckless driving               56                         
Excess passengers          48
Demand                           29       
Refuse                             14                       
(From January 2011)

Office of Legal Metrology 
Calibrated auto meters     9,969        
Fee collected                  ` 10,06,950
Cases filed                       306
Penalty cases                   274
Fine collected                `  77,950   
Pending cases in court      20

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