Not quite the right fare

Not quite the right fare

Not quite the right fare

Go to the prepaid auto stand on M G Road and after a rather long wait, you will be handed over a slip that has your destination and the fares pertaining to that destination. If you are a regular traveller by auto, you will easily notice that the fares are at least Rs 20 higher than the normal meter fare. And all this ‘billing’ is done by the ‘benign’ traffic cop at the stand. If there’s no cop manning the stand, ‘autowallahs’ waiting there decide which auto goes in which direction after looking at a chart that’s put up at the counter. The chart seems to be the basis for payment of fares. 

Metrolife sought to delve deeper into the system prevalent at the M G Road auto stand to find out where the blame lies. The traffic police kept changing their version on what exactly is the auto stand for. The chart, that is the basis of all the fleecing, was owned up neither by the traffic police or the regional transport authorities.

When questioned, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic and Safety) Praveen Sood about the slip-and-fare system at the M G Road auto stand, he first seemed ignorant about it and claimed that he didn’t know that such slips were being given out. He said if such a practice was indeed there, it was ‘illegal’. He reasoned that cops were there only to assist you to get an auto but not to slap a charge on you. And he didn’t even know that a chart pasted at the prepaid auto stand on M G Road listed out fares pertaining to specific locations.

But after half-a-day’s homework, Praveen Sood reverted to claim that it was all legal — the slips and the chart. He said RTO had fixed the fares to various locations from M G Road after verifying the actual distances.

 But when an RTO official was questioned about such a chart, he said he didn’t know anything about it and that the department hadn’t measured the distance from M G Road to several places in the City.

Prepaid auto counters were started by the Bangalore Traffic Police in 2005 at M G Road, Commercial Street, opposite Cauvery emporium.

Of the three, only one is functional at M G Road. The other prepaid auto counters are near the KSRTC Bus Stand in Majestic area and the City and Cantonment Railway Stations and here the customer has to pay Re 1 as service charge to the person manning the counter.

A senior official with the transport department said the prepaid system was useful but “the distance of places from the prepaid auto stands at railway stations and bus stand have been measured and the fares have been fixed accordingly but I am unaware of any such measurement being done from M G Road. I know that prepaid counters are useful but the chart is news to me.”

People said that prepaid counters fleece but the autos with faulty meters fleece more, so which is better, they wonder. Monika, a student said, “Autorickshaws from the prepaid counters don’t go further than what is mentioned in the slip. They drop you off at some general point and you will either have to walk or take another auto home.” 

Sikander, a student of New Horizon College said, “The autorickshaws charge whatever fares they feel like over and above the meter. At least with the slips, there’s some method to the madness,” he opined.