'Absolutely helpless...': Bengaluru commuters on auto rickshaw woes

ByPathi Venkata Thadhagath
Jul 18, 2022 06:15 PM IST

The commuters are not happy with Bengaluru auto rickshaw drivers who cancel rides often. 

Potholes, flooded roads and erratic traffic have become part and parcel in the life of Bengaluru commuters. Now it appears auto rickshaw drivers are adding to this daily battle, with many criticised for the attitude towards travellers. From cancelling rides to demanding extra fare during peak hours, the complaints are numerous.

Picture for representation. (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)
Picture for representation. (Raj K Raj/HT PHOTO)

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Harsh Bhangar, an employee in a private firm in the city's Koramangala area, said, "Five months ago, when I was placed in Bengaluru, I was excited to be in the city as I heard a lot about it... but the daily commute to my office has turned out to be a major challenge."

"I travel from Kadubeesanahalli to Koramangala every day for work and there is no direct public transport... auto rickshaw drivers quote around 300 which is not even negotiable. So, the only solution I have now is to change multiple buses to reach my office on time."

App-based ride hailing services like Ola and Uber do have auto rickshaws as an option, but they are unreliable, say commuters. "I find autos in Ola and Uber absolutely helpless. Not a single driver accepts a ride during peak hours and, if it is raining, which it often does, you have to burn your pockets to reach the destination," Sahiti Rachakonda, an IT industry employee who works in Mahadevapura, said.

Shruti Yadav, a student who lives in Indiranagar, agrees.

"There are multiple phases one has to go through to get a successful auto ride. If you use an app-based service, the drivers have to accept the ride and, most of the time, they do not. Even if they accept the ride, you have to be lucky enough to not face rejection after telling them your destination. And if you choose to pay through any other mode apart from cash, the chances of reaching your destination in an auto are negligible."

"The auto drivers in the city stopped using their fare meter longtime ago."

Irregular payouts, increased gas prices: What do the auto drivers say?

Auto rickshaw drivers say fares displayed on the meter do not cover inflated prices, which is why they have to charge more.

Manjunath Kumar, an auto driver from Koramangala, said, "Apps like Ola and Uber have not been very kind to us when it comes to crediting and quoting the fare. A ride from Maratahalli to Electronic City shows around 300 in apps and, during peak hour traffic, it costs 90 in fuel, considering traffic in the area.

"After removing the app's share, the money I get just doesn’t compensate for the time I spend for the ride. That is the reason why most drivers cancel rides if the destination is more than 10 kilometers away."

The drivers also allege that payments due to them from these apps are not regular.

"The reason we demand cash instead of other modes is that we get money instantly. Otherwise payments take time and it is a challenge to spend money daily on fuel or LPG."

In November last year, the Karnataka government raised minimum fares from 25 to 30 for the first two kilometers of the journey. Base price per every kilometre after that was increased from 13 to 15. That, the auto drivers say, is not enough to cover the price rise (not just of fuel but other essential goods) since.

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