Autos charge more during rain

Auto rickshaw drivers waiting for passengers

MD EYAMIN

Chennai, Nov 3: Auto rickshaw drivers in the city justified the hike in fares during the rainy season saying that they needed the money for maintenance of their vehicles. The drivers said that the waterlogged streets around the city left their vehicles damaged.

According to the revised tariff on the fare meter, the first 1.8 km will be charged Rs. 25 and Rs. 12 for every additional kilometer. But passengers were forced to pay double the normal fare. Commuters on their way to their offices were harassed during the peak hours.

 “Sometimes as a passenger we become helpless,” said K. Vivekan, a bank employee. “Due to lack of enough vehicles, we are forced to pay double fare to reach our destination.”

However M Nethaji, an autorickshaw driver, said “My auto broke down yesterday and I had to spend Rs. 300 to get it fixed.”

Nethaji, who takes home Rs. 800 a day, said “Moreover we lose time and money during business hours repairing our vehicle.”

Commuters also accused the auto drivers of not using the meter. Even though every vehicle has a meter attached to it, the drivers seldom agree to switch it on. They would rather bargain for an exorbitant fare.

“The last tariff of auto fare was fixed two years ago. But the price of fuel is changing every day,” said C Raja, an auto driver in Thiruvanmiyur area. “If we keep on charging according to the last tariff we won’t be able to survive.”

The drivers said that they would agree to use the meter if the share autorickshaws, where passengers share the vehicle for short trips, put on meters as well.

“If they can charge whatever they want to, why can’t we?” questioned Raja.