To make city travel more affordable, NGO moots ‘dial an auto rickshaw’ network

Imagine this. You call an autorickshaw and the driver arrives at the appointed time. After dropping you off at your destination, he points to the display meter, picks up the fare shown and leaves. No fleecing, no tantrums, no hassles. A fantasy? No, says Chennai City Connect, an NGO, if its suggestions made in a study report submitted to the transport department are implemented.

Inspired by the organised ‘call taxi’ networks in the city and its suburbs, it has mooted the formation of a company for autos to ensure affordable fare. A cooperative can be formed or private entrepreneurs can invited to form auto networks, it said.

The study, which found that many auto drivers were willing to work for.9000-10,000 a month, urges providing a fixed salary or revenue-sharing incentives as the lure. It also called for providing sufficient parking facilities for the dial-auto networks.

“It’s a truth that drivers cannot run autorickshaws on government fare. This is why these drivers overcharge. Introduction of a call auto service will be suitable for drivers and commuters.” saidChennai City Connect coordinator P Balachand. The entry of private firms in call-auto networks will attract competition and help bring down fares, he said.

“It will be welcome if the government forms a ‘call auto’ company. Due to the frequent fuel price hikes, it is difficult to ride an auto on the government-prescribed fare, said CITU-affiliated Autorickshaw Workers Union president BK Arunanidhi.

While the government-prescribed minimum auto fare in Chennaiis.14for the first two km and.6 for every additional km, most drivers have been demanding a minimum charge of.50 after the September 15 petrol price hike. Share auto drivers, too, have increased the minimum farefrom.7to.10.Of the 64,000 autorickshaws operating in the city, over 10,000 do not have permits, resulting to a huge revenue loss to the government, reports show.

Several commuters also feel this suggestion, if implemented, could change the situation. “When one hires an auto, the driver calculates the fare keeping in mind the empty distance he has to come back,” said a commuter Jonathan David.


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