Auto-rickshaw drivers are taking passengers for a ride.
Most of them don’t have a meter system in place and they continue to charge arbitrary fares in violation of the rate list prescribed by the State Transport Authority (STA).
Overloading is a norm in three-wheelers plying in Lucknow. Drivers pick up an extra (fourth) passenger (sometimes even five), despite permission for only three and charge extra fare against what has been fixed by the STA.
Passengers may be in for another jerk now as various unions of auto-drivers have approached transport officials to revise passenger fares.
Sample this: As per the rates fixed, each passenger who boards an auto-rickshaw at Munshipulia and goes up to Charbagh is required to pay R17, which fetches the driver R68 (collectively from four passengers) against the CNG expense of roughly R50.
Each trip requires a little over a kilogram of CNG, which comes for R46.98 per kg.
Hence, even if all passengers board the vehicle at Munshipulia and get down at Charbagh, the driver saves R20 on a one-side trip.
But this is not the case, as majority passengers get down somewhere en route and here comes overcharging.
So, if you board at Munshipulia and get down at Badshahnagar, you are asked to pay R10 and the next passenger who boards at Badshahnagar and gets down at OCR also pays R10. The third one who sits from OCR to Charbagh also pays R5. Thereby, three passengers pay R25 for one seat instead of the fixed R17.
At night (after 7 pm), the drivers charge extra and if you try to counter, they will haggle.
Office-bearers of the Lucknow Auto-rickshaw Threewheeler Mahasangh accept this fact but have no ready solution.
“Yes. I have also got several complaints of overcharging but it is difficult to monitor each driver on different routes. I have informed the regional transport officer and the traffic inspector about this,” said Pankaj Dixit, president the mahasangh.
The problem doesn’t end here. Another hike is in the pipeline as the Mahasangh is going to seek a rate revision from the regional transport officer.
The association wants that instead of four (that is practiced illegally), only three passengers be allowed and rates be decided on the basis of three passengers only. If this happens, there will be a 20% hike in fares at least. So, if you are currently paying R17 for a trip, you will have to pay R20 after the raise.
Roughly 5,000 auto-rickshaws and 4,000 tempos run on different routes in the district apart from the 200 city buses that ferry over two lakh passengers every day.
And at least 50,000 commuting by autos become victims of overcharging daily.