For Sheila Menon, her first journey in Haryana’s satellite city will always be etched in her memory for all the wrong reasons. Just coming to terms with the fact that there were no trains and buses in Gurgaon, the 26-year-old was fleeced by an auto driver.
“It came to me as a shock when my friends told me that there were no trains and buses here. People either hired cabs, used their own cars or were dependent on auto-rickshaws,” she said.
But what shocked her most was the absence of meters in auto-rickshaws and the minimum fare being Rs 50 — however short the distance.
“It was my first visit to Gurgaon last September to join my new office. I boarded an auto from Huda City Centre Metro station to Cyber City. The driver charged me Rs 200 for a mere 15-minute ride. He told me that we would get stuck in traffic and that my destination was at the other end of Gurgaon,” recalled Menon, an IT professional.
That was the first time she felt the pinch in her pocket, and it wasn’t going to be the last. Until she got familiar with the city’s routes and the self-set auto tariffs, the auto drivers kept fleecing her.
Now, Menon boards the Metro from New Delhi’s Saket to Gurgaon. From there, she boards an auto-rickshaw to reach office. “Fortunately, my company provides me a drop if I work beyond 8.30pm. If not, I don’t know what would have I done. Because of the huge transportation problem here, I have never explored the city after sunset,” she said.
According to Menon, one of the main reasons why Gurgaon is unsafe is because of the lack of a reliable transport system.
Born and brought up in Mumbai, Menon has never used auto-rickshaws or taxis to commute as the city’s trains and buses provided for excellent connectivity and frequency. “I have lived in Mumbai all my life. The city is known to be extremely safe. It is the public transport that makes women feel safe there,” said Menon.
With the increasing number of migrants flocking Gurgaon, there is a dire need for the city to become people-friendly. The first step towards it is to launch a reliable public transport facility. After seven months of staying in the Millennium City, a wiser Menon now pays only R50 from Huda City Center to Cybercity — not a penny more, not a penny less.
(As told to Himabindu Reddy)