No end in sight for auto woes

Fare hike

No end in sight for auto woes

Bangaloreans woke up to yet another auto strike recently. While hassled passengers spent the day stranded, auto unions were listing out their demands — increasing the basic fare and the fare per kilometre. ‘Metrolife’ spoke to both auto drivers and commuters to find out if the rise in auto fares is justified.

“Rates for everything have increased in the City. Government employees get increments, we don’t get anything. We have to fight for our rights and subsidies,” says ‘Auto’ Shivakumar, who is part of the Adarsh Auto Union, Rajiv Gandhi Auto Association, and more such groups.

“The demand is for Rs 24 as the minimum fare but that is too high. Nobody will take an auto if the minimum fare is raised to that. A minimum fare of Rs 20 is enough,” he adds and says the problem should be solved with a consensus between auto drivers and commuters.

The 6 am to 6 pm strike left many commuters who use autorickshaws in despair.

Zorini Khiangte, a hotel operational trainee, who spent nearly Rs 300 on an auto to travel to work, was left to witness a squabble between her auto driver and ones striking from the fraternity. “There is no point in increasing the minimum fare for autos. It is at Rs 17 currently but nobody ever charges that, they always ask for Rs 20 to 25 anyway,” she says.

Other commuters agree and say the problem isn’t just about the minimum fare. “There is no point in a hike. When it’s Rs 17, the drivers demand Rs 20. If it’s Rs 24, they will ask for Rs 30. A hike in minimum fare is justified looking at the rise in petrol prices but auto drivers should give back the change,” says Gurupriya Shrinivasen, an advertising professional and a commuter.

A strike brings to light not just matters pertaining to the demands but other such issues that both commuters and auto drivers seem to face. While the inconvenience in commuting is the problem of the day, auto drivers say the intention is to merely make the government take notice.

“It has been two years since the auto fares were last increased. With the rates of petrol and other commodities rising, it is time the hike in auto fares happened. The strike recently was to attract government’s attention by not plying 85,000 vehicles.

Besides the price hike, we have a few other major demands like subsidies, housing solutions, auto loans and waiving off sales tax during the replacement of vehicle,” says M Manjunath, president, Adarsh Auto and Taxi Union (HMS).

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