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Growing patronage for share autorickshaws

By P. Oppili

CHENNAI, FEB. 18. Inadequate bus services to some of the city's suburbs have led to increased patronage for share autorickshaws and meter-taxis.

It is possible to see a large number of share autorickshaws and meter-taxis near Adyar depot, at Thiruvanmiyur, Saidapet, Guindy and a few other areas in the southern part of the city and near Anna Nagar Round Tana, Chintamani and Tirumangalam in Central Chennai area during peak hours in the morning and evening.

In the southern fringes, the share autos mainly ply on East Coast Road up to Injambakkam. For those heading to various places along Old Mahabalipuram Road, the maxicabs are available from Adyar depot up to Chozhinganallur.

`No fresh permits'

The Transport Department officials put the total number of share autos and meter-taxis plying on city roads at 305. "At present we have no plans to issue any fresh permit for share autos or meter- taxis," said a senior Transport department officer.

The number of permits for these vehicles had been restricted to 305 in the city, keeping in mind the burgeoning vehicular population in the city.

A cross section of commuters said that during peak hours some Metropolitan Transport Corporation drivers did not stop the vehicles at the bus stops.

While school and college students were able to run behind them and board them, it was a problem for those who were older and infirm. This was one of the reasons for opting for share auto, said a regular user of the service in Thiruvanmiyur.

With the demand for the share autos and meter-taxis increasing, a majority of the operators have started violating transport rules, officials alleged. During a surprise check conducted in December and January on these vehicles, the officials detected 144 cases of violation for which fines were imposed on them.

Over-loading, irregular seat arrangement and non-fixing of fare meter were some of the common complaints in both these vehicles, the officials said. One of the share autorickshaw drivers, B.Tamizhselvan accepted that many of operators carried more persons in the vehicle than the prescribed limit.

No new MTC services

When contacted, MTC officials said that they had no plans to introduce any new services to meet the demand in the suburbs. "We are just replacing some of the old vehicles with new ones. A total of 250 new buses will replace the old ones before the end of March next year," the officials added.

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