Double pay for one way

Travelling woes

Double pay for one way

There’s no end to the list of annoying habits attributed to the City’s autorickshaw drivers. But there’s one tendency in particular that irks commuters more than others — partly because it means they’re overcharged, and also because it comprises a safety hazard.

Most autorickshaw drivers feel that giving lifts to two commuters at the same time translates into hitting the proverbial jackpot. As long as both are travelling on roughly the same path, the driver need make only one journey, and still get away with charging both passengers the full fare. Metrolife speaks to a few Bangaloreans to find out more about their experiences with double-lifts, and what steps they take to avoid it.

Pratul, a software engineer, says that this has happened often to his mother, who travels regularly by autorickshaws. What annoys him the most, he maintains, is the fact that the drivers charge passengers the full fare — while technically, they should be halving it. “It’s quite common during peak hours, when people are in a hurry.

Once when my mother was travelling, the driver accepted another passenger and then created a scene when she refused to pay the full fare. Technically, the driver should divide the fare amount between both passengers,” he says. Another point he makes is that drivers often react very aggressively to people who complain against this tendency. “In my mother’s case, the driver screamed at her and then followed her on the road, telling all the other auto drivers that she had refused to pay him,” he recollects.

The monetary issue isn’t the only one that worries commuters, however — giving double lifts could also end up being quite dangerous. Nithya, an assistant professor at NIFT, admits that she’s been caught unaware in such situations often, as her route to work passes through an industrial area where plenty of workers need lifts.

“I’m not comfortable with this at all. I don’t know the other person in the auto — once, I had to travel with two other factory workers. One never knows if the driver is in cahoots with these people,” she says, adding, “In fact, even travelling in an auto with two drivers in it — especially at night — is a strict no-no for me.”

Now, she’s begun to get firm with drivers who attempt to pick up extra passengers. “I’ve started putting my foot down. When a driver tries to do this, I tell him I’ve paid the full fare. The minute I start talking money, they usually give up.”

Abdul Saleem, the Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic), however, believes that the auto driver isn’t the only party at fault here. “A passenger shouldn’t sit in an auto that’s already engaged. It’s difficult for us to handle this situation, since the passenger is at fault too. If two people want to share a vehicle, they should have an understanding beforehand,” he maintains.

Not everyone, though, agrees that sharing an auto with a stranger is a bad thing. Sapna, a professional, feels that it might actually have its advantages as well. “I sort of support the idea. It’s something like car-pooling, although that mostly happens with your own friends. There can be times when you desperately need an auto, and can’t wait for one,” she explains.

She also has her own twist on the safety-angle of the issue. “If I’m the only passenger, it’s possible that the driver could harm me as well. In some cases, having someone else in the auto actually helps,” she concludes.

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