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Prepaid autos charging more than meter fare

Chavi Kaul

Yet it is the best bet for majority of commuters whose preferred mode of transportation is autorickshaw

— Photo: Bhagya prakash K.

Preferred:Many commuters say they do not want to take a chance with autorickshaws on the road as most of them refuse to take them to their destinations.

Bangalore: When Payal, a management trainee in a software company in the city, approached the prepaid auto counter outside Forum Mall on Hosur Road to reach home in Domlur, she was told that the fare would be Rs. 80.

Finding the fare from the prepaid autorickshaw counter to be on the higher side, Payal moved away from the counter, stopped a different autorickshaw on the road just outside the shopping mall and reached home paying Rs. 50 according to the meter.

Similarly, a student, who travelled to Bhagwan Mahaveer Road from the prepaid auto counter at the Bangalore City Railway Station recently paid Rs. 54 for the journey. However, a few days later, when she took an autorickshaw waiting for passengers just outside the railway station to the same destination, the fare was just Rs. 39.

Sunil D., another frequent commuter, shared his experience of having to cough up much more than the meter for his autorickshaw journeys from the prepaid counters at M.G. Road and outside Forum Mall. “There is a big difference between the prepaid fares and the meter rates. So, I prefer to take the autorickshaws that run on meters,” he said.

Most operators at the prepaid counters claim that the fares are fixed for an entire area. Hence, the difference between the fares, they said. “The fare for the shortest as well as the longest distance in a particular area from the point of boarding will be same,” an operator said justifying the fares.

Yet, for a majority of commuters, whose preferred mode of transportation is autorickshaw, the prepaid counters are the best bet.

Priya Tripathi, an engineering student, who was waiting for her turn in the queue to board an autorickshaw at the prepaid counter at Majestic, said she “trusts” prepaid autos as she would know how much she would have to pay for the journey.

As traffic constables were posted outside the counter, Priya said that she would be paying only the fare as per the meter.

“It is also safe and we need not haggle with the drivers over the fare at the end of the journey,” she said.

Many commuters, who were waiting in the queues for prepaid autorickshaws, said they did not want to take a chance with autorickshaws on the road as most of them refused to take them to their destinations or demanded exorbitant fare.

“Most auto drivers refuse to take us to our destination. We have to be lucky to get an autorickshaw willing to take us to our destination,” said Sonia, a homemaker residing in Indiranagar.

“Their common refrain is they do not get passengers if they come to our destination,” she added.

A few passengers did not mind paying a few rupees more. “If the fare at the prepaid counters is not higher than the meter, will these autos come to prepaid counters. I think that is an incentive which drives autos to the prepaid counters,” said another passenger.

But, a driver Soma, waiting for a passenger outside the Cantonment Railway Station, said he queues up outside the prepaid counter as he easily gets passengers.

“It is easier to get passengers if there is a prepaid counter,” he said.

But, who fixes the fare at the prepaid counters? The authorities manning the prepaid counter at KSRTC bus stand in Majestic said the fares are fixed by the Transport Department.

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