Sanjana Vaid, who commutes between her house in Ghaziabad and her office in Okhla in Delhi, skipped a number of shared autos at Vaishali Metro station and insisted that she would travel alone.
Shared autos are the mainstay for commuters from Metro stations for last-mile connectivity.
The abduction of a 24-year-old employee of e-commerce giant Snapdeal, who returned home safe on Friday, has added to the ‘shared auto phobia’ among women who take them since they are the only ones providing last mile connectivity in the UP industrial city.
Sanjana was not alone, a number of women at Vaishali Metro station HT talked to said they would try to book autos alone and will avoid shared autos.
“Between 8am and 12noon, rush hour for auto drivers, we ferry around 40 passengers to and from the Metro station daily. Today, most of the passengers were women,” said Sumit, an auto richshaw driver.
Auto drivers at the Kaushambi Metro station’s prepaid booking booth also reported brisk business on Friday. The booth is run by the traffic police.
“Most women preferred shared autos since they are cheaper. We used to get a maximum of 15 passengers at the prepaid booth. But on Friday, 22 women passengers had booked an auto till 3pm,” said Anil Kumar, traffic inspector, Ghaziabad.
Even the auto drivers running the shared three-wheelers are apprehensive over enhanced police scrutiny. All drivers of shared autos are under the scanner and police are checking their credentials.
Over 40 police personnel were deployed at the Vaishali Metro station on Thursday when the news of abduction broke. On Friday, there were only threefour of them. “We will verify all auto drivers in the city and prepare a record,” said Salman Taj, superintendent of police (city), Ghaziabad.
Ram Naresh, who runs a shared auto, said most drivers are not owners of their vehicle. “Drivers take them on rent from contractors who may or may not verify the drivers’ credentials,” he said.