An unscheduled stop

An unscheduled stop

Most Bangaloreans who frequently commute by auto would have surely experienced an unprecedented stop at the petrol pump for refuelling. The meter continues to run during these stops and often, the passenger is forced to wait a while owing to the long queue of autos.

What few people know is that auto drivers are not supposed to take this detour, an instruction which is clearly stuck near the steering wheel of some autos, specifying ‘Instructions for safety with gas vehicles – do not carry passengers to the filling station’.

RV D’Souza, joint commissioner of transport (Bangalore urban), says that usage of this sign will be recommended to be introduced in all autos. Though he states that this is not a formal rule as per the Motor Vehicles Act, he will do his best to ensure that this initiative is taken forward.

   “For both CNG and LPG vehicles, refuelling with passengers on board should be avoided. Under normal circumstances, there have been no incidences of explosions. But as a precautionary measure, it is advisable for passengers to alight before the petrol bunk. In Mumbai, a cab driver once told me to get off while he filled petrol because that’s the rule there. We will try our best to replicate it in Bangalore too,” he informs.

Maruthi, another RTO official, says that if the customer cannot wait for the auto to refuel, they always have the option of getting another auto.

 “It’s a logical step for auto drivers to refuel when they’re running short of gas. The mileage varies from vehicle to vehicle and often works against them when they’re travelling across the City,” he notes.

Mahaboob Shariff, an auto driver, says that he is unaware of any such rule. “If the gas is less and you have to go a long distance, it’s common sense that the auto will have to stop and tank up.

Otherwise, the vehicle will stop somewhere in the middle and it will be more inconvenient for the passenger. Many areas like Seshadripuram don’t have petrol bunks. So we refuel on the basis of availability,” he explains, adding, “in my service, I’ve driven the bus, tempo, auto and car but I’ve never heard of something like this. If the passenger objects, I won’t stop. But from my experience, passengers insist that I stop and refuel to avoid problems on the way.”

Mahaboob feels that the rule only applies to autos carrying smokers. “When people are smoking cigarettes, we don’t take them because they get annoyed if they have to stub it out. This rule must have been made only for smokers,” he opines.

The manager of the petrol pump on St Mark’s Road, says, “To my knowledge, autos are allowed to fill gas with passengers on board. But they must ensure that they are not using the phone during this stop.”

Commuters like Varsha Suman find it annoying to be charged for sitting in the auto during these stops.

“I make a lot of official and personal calls while commuting and whenever these auto drivers make a stop to fill gas, I am forced to step outside and talk till they’re done. This usually takes a few minutes. It is understandable that they need to refuel but it happens to me too frequently,” she says.

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