Getting away from the tolled airport road

Getting away from the tolled airport road
The existing airport road may have eased the flow of traffic towards the last mile stretch to the Kempegowda International Airport (KIA), but taxi drivers say the commute burns their pockets every day.

"We have to pay Rs 120 per trip for a 22-km stretch. How can a taxi driver pay such amount," asked Tanveer Pasha, leader of Ola, Taxi-for-sure, Uber Drivers and Owners Associaton. "Besides, there is no lay bay where drivers can rest. Parking vehicle near the toll plaza for rest will attract fine from the police," he added.

KSTDC, Meru, Megacab and app-based taxis -- Ola and Uber -- drivers said that they have given several memoranda to the government but in vain. "In the beginning, the toll was Rs 30. Nobody would have suffered if the toll authorities had increased it to Rs 60. But they hiked it to Rs 120 overnight. Our requests and protests have not yielded any results," said KSTDC drivers union general secretary Neelakantappa.

KSTDC charges Rs 11,700 per month for its drivers which will be given towards toll fare. Those attached to Ola and Uber have to pay the toll from their pocket.

"We were happy in the beginning with the companies providing good incentives for plying to airport. A ride from Electronics City to the airport would cost Rs 1,200. But now they are offering rides for Rs 450 even as they reduce incentive. Add to this the rise in diesel prices over the last three years and the time and fuel spent in traffic jams," Pasha said.

Noting that the new alternative road from Hennur Cross has come as a boon for drivers picking up passengers from Marathahalli and Koramangala, he, however, said that there are limits to its benefit. “Those coming from Whitefield, which is a major pick-up point for airport-going taxis, have to use the narrow roads which are dark. Drivers usually do not take that route during the night and early morning, which are peak hours at the airport,” he added.

Meru and Megacab drivers said their demand for a service road is pending for the last two years. “The present service road ends at Chikkajala, after which every vehicle is forced to enter the tolled road. The NHAI has made building of a service road mandatory. But no one seems to care,” they said.

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