Cheaper taxis: Commuters' boon, auto drivers' bane

Cheaper taxis: Commuters' boon, auto drivers' bane

As Bengalureans sit back and relish the now affordable taxi rides, it is the auto-rikshaw drivers who are moaning and groaning. 

With the ongoing price war among the taxi operators, passengers are spoilt for choice. Auto-rickshaw drivers, on the other hand, are rallying to make sure that no taxi fare will dip lower than auto fares. Consequently have followed dharnas and agitations seeking remedy under the Competition Act. 

Rudramurthy, the secretary of Auto Rickshaw Drivers’ Union (ARDU), told Deccan Herald that there were more than one lakh autos in the City, the livelihood for as many people and their families. 

“We ply after we have received due permits from the State government, but most of these taxi operators representing big companies are running their services illegally in the City. They do not have genuine permits. They are also hiring independent drivers with their own cabs and include them in the company's fleet,” he said. 

If the government does not do anything for them soon, they will be forced to stage mass protests bringing all the auto drivers under one umbrella to fight for our rights, he added. 

These auto-rickshaw unions face an imminent threat from taxis that offer as low a fare as Rs 10 per kilometer. The auto union had in the past submitted a memorandum to the transport commissioner seeking remedy under the Competition Act to end the monopoly of taxi operators, but to no avail.

On Friday, the union members again submitted a memorandum to the Bengaluru Urban Deputy Commissioner, V Shankar, seeking the government’s intervention. 

Commuters, hitherto harassed by auto drivers who either fleeced them or refused to go by the meter, now have plenty to smile about. 

Rudrambika, a content writer who travels across the City every day, said, “Earlier auto drivers always pressed for Rs 20-30 extra to go to from Whitefield to Jayanagar or even Hebbal. Now I have no qualms with the cheaper options. There are so many taxi operators in the City who offer competitive fares and with a wait of 20 minutes to half an hour they are at my doorstep, so why would I beg any auto driver,” she said. 

Auto drivers are now cautioning commuters to watch out for sudden taxi fare increase. Manjunath, a member of Adarsh Auto Union, said, “These taxi operators are offering such low fares only to gain popularity. Commuters will be shocked real soon when these operators hike the fares overnight, because they are not government regulated like us.” 

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