Extortionist fares: Is the end in sight?

I don’t know if you’ve been following the developments, but the police finally seem pretty determined to rein in the auto rickshaws from over charging. First the stated intent to ensure that they don’t charge more than the fares agreed upon by the auto rickshaws union. Then the warnings. And finally the crack down. Including impounding of hundreds of errant rickshaws, and even revoking of their licenses. What has been the response? A strike by the auto rickshaw drivers on Monday to protest the police action. I know there have been debates on whether the fares agreed to were correct. Whether the auto rickshaw owners are giving the drivers a raw deal and therefore the mercenary behaviour etc. The fact is that taking an auto in Chennai can be a terrible experience, leaving one feeling cheated and helpless. In fact, the city’s auto rickshaws are famous all over the country for the extortionist charges, and contribute a great deal to giving Chennai a bad name. I hope that this time the police, and I may add, the public, will stand firm so that we bring this unsavoury practice to an end. Once and for all.

17 Comments so far

  1. shyam (unregistered) on October 30th, 2007 @ 11:30 pm

    About time….

  2. Shyam (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 12:48 am

    Lets hope this action continues and not a mere eye wash

  3. Vivek (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 12:53 am

    Been there.. done that.. This is all brain wash… when was anything done in India in public interests… All BS

  4. Murali (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 1:14 am

    FACT- Most of the autos in chennai are owned either by policeman or the politicians.
    So you really beleive things will be fixed….

  5. randomwalker (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 2:58 am

    Great! Next, the government should fix the prices charged by restaurants, and the police should close down any that don’t comply. Why stop there? Fix the salaries of all employees based on their job description! Incentives? Profit? What bourgeois bullshit! Bring on the communist utopia!

  6. Someone (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 8:00 am

    As Murali said its the policemen who own most of the autos. Its actually easy to blame the autorickshaw drivers of chennai. They are the easy targets. Agreed they feleece and are rude, but one needs to look at other side too.

    1. Policemen own the auto
    2. To drive an auto one needs a special permit from the RTO. It is quite costly.
    3. The auto drivers buy the permit, by taking loan from the pawn brokers by pledgng their auto permits
    4. Every day they need to pay huge amounts both to police men and the pawn broker

    If the government steps in and reduces the price of permits then things might improve. This comment is not to take away the blame from the auto drivers. But a lot needs to be done from the governments end too.

  7. xys (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 9:50 am

    Those b***ds auto drivers will not change no matter what you do to improve the service. They are just a bunch of a**h*s who suck blood out of pity chennaivaasis.

  8. Parthasarathy (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 9:52 am

    If there was one thing Chennaites wanted the politicians to do, it would be to reduce auto fairs.

    The police own the autos and besides, permits are not issued freely. Hence the high demand for them.

    Will the government do either? I doubt it, given this governments propensity to run with the hares and hunt with the hounds.

  9. ranga (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 10:13 am

    Maybe someone should teach them on how to drive in city roads without irritating other drivers.

  10. suraj (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

    I landed in chennai last friday in Central station. It was raining heavily. Many auto drivers approached me and I told I need to go to Adyar. They asked me 200-250 rupees. I am a doctor by profession, I told Sir,If I demand rs 200 or whatever money for any injection I administer, and fail to administer if you don’t give it, you will die! The persons face changed completely and he looked around and asked me meter charge. However when he saw his collegue standing there, he said Sir first bony so give me 20 rs extra.

    I learnt a important lesson that auto guys are humans and they have some of the worst people around them influencing them and directing them. its a peer pressure situation which leads them astray. But yes they do take people for a big ride and in my opinion I guess we should enforce the law on the law breakers and look into the activities of the policemen who run side business and do unscrupulous activities. Don’t you guys feel its just the tip of a iceberg and the whole system onwhich we are perched is shaking and may collapse sometime soon??????

  11. ds (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 3:44 pm

    I dont know why chennai is not able to enforce the law for auto metres. It is enforced in many cities like bangalore,mumbai etc.
    Here people dont follow the rules and no one cares about it..
    The only thing good to talk about chennai is “IT”

  12. Ram (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 5:01 pm

    The autorickshaw issue is like a dog’s tail and no one can straighten it – The autos always demand exorbitant amounts even for a short drive -there could be some remedy if some of the corporates step in to float a company with a fleet of autos (they experimented this in Retail shops)– no doubt they will face stiff opposition and even some violence from the auto drivers, (police looking the otherway) — and if this cannot be done, only other way is for the Government itself to take over this auto system (as one has indicated it is most politicians and policemen who own the vehicles, let it be official) — This may be a dream !!

  13. Vamsee (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 5:55 pm

    I for one, will be very happy when the enforcement of meter rates happens. As somebody who moved here from Hyderabad, it was appalling to see auto guys brazenly ripping off new people. It gives a bad name to the city, and I still long for the hassle-free way I could get an auto in Hyderabad. Just tell the place, sit in the auto, go. Now when is that going to happen in Chennai? I guess I can dream on…

  14. ag (unregistered) on October 31st, 2007 @ 7:47 pm

    People I know including my family are shifting to call taxis. Cheaper or expensive, there is no irritating haggling. Autos should not be above the law! it is almost like they rule the city.

  15. Pisipati Sriram (unregistered) on November 1st, 2007 @ 11:52 am

    Automen in Hyderabad are observing bandh for the last couple of days, protesting against fixing of digital metres in place of mechanical metres.

    The decision to introduce digital metres was taken long ago by the govt following complaints of rampant tampering of mechanical metres and flecing of commuters by autodrivers. The Govt gave sufficient time and offered loan assistance to autos to fix digital metres. When automen refused to fix the metres even after the grace period and loan facility, the govt started seizng errant autos. Protesting vehicle seizures and oposing digital metres, they have gone on strike.

    When the govt offered loan facility for fixing digital metres, one fails to understand what difficulty is there to fix the metres. It would also relieve auto drivers daily hassels with commuters over excess fare. Public complanit is auto metres run faster than auto wheels and this makes holes in their pockets.

    When there are metres for power (electricity), water supply etc, one doesn’t understand why automen should opose digital metres. If they have any difficulty, they should discuss with the Govt.

    Also one fails to understand the rationale of some political parties and leaders supporting autodrivers who are refusing to fix digital metres and fleecing commuters by charging excess fares through tampering metres. It is not that all autodrivers are violating rules, but majority of them. It is unfair of political parties and leaders supporting such rampant public looting acts.

  16. Suresh (unregistered) on November 10th, 2007 @ 12:20 am

    Fact is that owning auto costs more than owning a maruti van. This is because of license and other issues that tag on to the actual cost of an auto (about Rs 80k). Instead of blaming the autowallahs, reform the license structure – which will make the cost of owning or leasing an auto considerably cheaper.

    The cost of auto ride depends on depreciation on auto + fuel. At Rs 7 per km, the autodriver does not take home much.

  17. Sanjeeva (unregistered) on November 12th, 2007 @ 4:16 pm

    Chennai’s curse……….these auto guys have become a menace. The police should come down heavily on them.

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