Autowallahs care no more for meter!

Autowallahs care no more for meter!

The government may be thinking to make Hyderabad a world class city, but auto drivers in the city continue to defeat the very idea several times in a day through their hasty attitude. These autowallahs are making the

Hyderabad: The government may be thinking to make Hyderabad a world class city, but auto drivers in the city continue to defeat the very idea several times in a day through their hasty attitude. These autowallahs are making the most of the absence of proper bus facilities at bus terminals and railway stations by causing inconvenience to commuters by refusing to ply and charging exorbitant fares, particularly from tourists.

Passengers often complain that auto drivers take advantage of their helplessness and charge double the price and make them feel cheated all through the journey. This situation is especially being faced by the commuters who try to engage an auto after 11 pm. According to rules, auto drivers should charge half-return (a half amount more than the actual journey meter charge) only after 11 pm, but auto drivers do not follow this rule. But, they start demanding the half-return from 10.30 pm onwards and stating that it would be late for them to reach home.

“They have forgotten to ply on meter these days and only demand double the actual amount. When we insist that they come on the meter, they simply move away. It is becoming a nuisance especially during late night hours,” said Siddharth, a resident of Mangalhat. "If locals are facing such a harrowing experience, think about the troubles being faced by tourists," he said.

Take the case of Vinod G, a pharmacist and a resident of Mehdipatnam who arrived at Secunderabad railway station from Vijayawada. He was made to pay Rs 250 to reach his home in the auto. “I had no other choices as there was no bus facility at 5 am and with my family traveling with me, my first priority was to reach home safe,” he said. He pointed out that though similar menace prevailed in Mumbai, auto and taxi drivers have started to fall in line following the direct intervention of Shiv Sena and MNS activists.

Responding to allegations, auto union leaders expressed helplessness at the menace and said the drivers cannot survive on the amount collected on the meter. "This is the truth. Show me one auto that plies on the meter. But for the new-age taxi operators whose business module is app-driven, no one can make a living on the meter," they said.

Telangana Auto Drivers’ Samakhya general secretary A Sathi Reddy said, "Auto drivers affiliated to any of the trade unions do not cross the limits. Auto drivers associated with unions generally dress up in khaki, possesses a badge and they are never rude towards passengers," he claimed.

Reddy said there was another rule that the nameplate with details of the drivers has to be kept in the vehicle, but due to some problems like manhandling and abuses by some passengers drivers are not keen on mentioning details on the nameplate. “We generally talk to the auto drivers in the union on behaving politely with passengers and most of them respond in a positive manner. It is the non-affiliated auto drivers who create problems,” he said.

Prabhakara Chary, a frequent traveler said that he had shifted to cabs after noticing the exorbitant charging by auto drivers. Hyderabad joint transport commissioner T Raghunath expressed his helplessness over the issue and said that the department has very little control over auto drivers. Passengers have to lodge a complaint with the city traffic police and then RTA will take action by seizing their license and auto.

Police officials said that commuters can immediately lodge the complaint against the auto drivers who demand higher fare at toll-free no 100.

“To crack down this problem, Hyderabad traffic police has come up with a new initiative called prepaid auto booth, where we provide autos to the commuters at fixed rate to a certain distance, which is affordable to both auto drivers and commuters, the official said.

Traffic DCP A V Ranganath said the passengers can lodge a complaint with the nearest traffic police station if they encounter any issue with the auto drivers.

They can also send an SMS or email with the auto number to the mail id

The passengers can also call on the traffic helpline number 9010203626 or 9490598985 for any grievance.

K Chandrashekar

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