Night charge 'bhi lagega' even at 10 pm

“Will you go to Noida?”
“Yes, for Rs 150”
“It’s too much. I usually give
Rs 80.”
“Madam, then let’s go by the meter.”

Abhilasha Suman, 24, often has this kind of an exchange with autowallahs.
A private firm employee, she usually takes the Metro to office but there are days when she misses the morning alarm and ends up taking an auto.

“Taking an auto is a big hassle, so I try to avoid it as much as possible,” she says.
Suman, who works in Noida, says she rarely comes across an auto driver who insists on going by the meter in the first place. “They always quote an amount, but when the passenger tries to bargain they say let’s go by the meter,” says the Laxmi Nagar resident.

The situation gets worse at night. Autowallahs start asking exorbitant fares after sunset, she says. Once an auto driver asked for Rs 200 from Laxmi Nagar to New Delhi railway station, she says. “It was around 10 pm, but he said night charge bhi lagega.”
The traffic police say the night charge is applicable from 11 pm to 5 am and it is 25 per cent of the total fare.

If you go to New Delhi Railway Station, the auto drivers there will never go by the meter, she says.

“My sister came to Delhi a month ago. She was heckled by drivers at the station. Nobody was ready to take her by the meter. She gave Rs 200 to reach my place,” Suman says. “The auto drivers are moody; they do as they please.”

Sometimes, the drivers also check the number of passengers before quoting the fare. “They will ask how many people are with you. If we say three, they quote an amount,” she adds. “If we say it’s too much, they say you are three persons so you have to pay extra.”

But auto drivers say passengers don’t want to go by the meter either. “Commuters always want to go for as low fare as possible and there have been cases where I insisted on them to go by the meter, but they refused,” says 42-year-old auto driver Kishore Chand.

“Some passengers don’t even pay the night charge,” he adds.

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