They make their own rules

Extra Fare
Last Updated 18 February 2013, 13:22 IST

There’s no end to the complaints regarding the City’s autorickshaw drivers — whether it’s to do with overcharging, refusing to ply or plain rude behaviour. But one issue which most commuters bring up frequently is the matter of night-time rates. Post 10 pm, autorickshaw fares go up to one-and-a-half times the meter.

However, most drivers have a flexible notion of the deadline, with a majority of them charging the extra fare as soon as it gets dark. In fact, it isn’t uncommon to hear drivers demanding extra as early as 8 pm — especially near malls and other popular hangout zones.

Metrolife speaks to a few Bangaloreans to find out whether they’ve experienced this problem.

Raghu, a professional, agrees that this is a common complaint — to the extent that he has very little hope that it will ever be resolved. “My mother travels by autorickshaw frequently, and I often hear her complain about this. Besides charging extra, the drivers tend to get a lot pickier about where they’re willing to ply after sundown as well. It’s tough to find an autorickshaw in the first place — and those who do agree to ply either charge double-meter or simply ask for an extra Rs 100,” he says.

In areas where there are prepaid auto stands, commuters have it much easier, since the police officials in charge generally insist that the driver plies at the right fare. However, it’s also tough to find an autorickshaw at these stands post 8 pm. Pratul, a software engineer, points out that auto drivers tend to avoid the stands, since they know they’ll be able to maximise profits elsewhere. “In areas like MG Road and Koramangala, which are popular with the young crowd, it’s tough to find a single autorickshaw driver who’ll agree to go at the right fare. In fact, many of them don’t bother putting on their metres — they directly state a large sum. It’s worst in areas where large groups of autos have gathered, since the drivers tend to insist on a large sum and stick to that. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I might find a passing driver who’ll agree to go by meter — but it isn’t that easy,” he states.

Another aspect to the problem is that many commuters aren’t aware of the night-time deadline. Drivers capitalise on this ignorance by insisting that 9 pm — or sometimes even as early as 8 pm — qualifies for extra charge. Shruthi, a professional, agrees that the City’s auto drivers have a very loose understanding of the point of time at which they can start charging extra.

“They increase the fare as soon as it starts to get dark. It depends on the place you’re going as well — they might ask for double -meter fare depending on the distance. At the end of the day, it’s simply about bargaining with the drivers,” she reflects.

Since at that time of the night, most commuters are simply keen to get back home, very few take the time to argue or bring down the fare, though.

“In most cases, we’re helpless. In Bangalore, any time past 9 pm is pretty late. We might search for an auto driver who will ply at the usual rates for a while but since many of them ask for a similar amount, we simply end up paying it,” sums up Pratul.

(Published 18 February 2013, 13:22 IST)

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