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12/09/2012
Commuters demand more prepaid autos

Citizens Urge Government To Set Up More Such Stands

Daniel P George & Christin Mathew | TNN 


    While harried commuters haggle with autorickshaw drivers on the city’s roads, business is smooth and professional at the two prepaid auto stands in the city, at Chennai Central station and at Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminal in Koyambedu. 
    Commuters who have used the prepaid stands have a simple, extremely reasonable, question: Why can’t every busy locality in the city have a prepaid autorickshaw stand? 
    The prepaid tariff has a minimum fare of 25 and 9 for every additional kilometre. 
    Commuters suggest that prepaid auto stands could be set up at busy suburban stations like Chennai Beach, Broadway, Egmore, Guindy, Nungambakkam, Tambaram and St Thomas Mount. They could then be extended to MRTS stations like Tiruvanmayur and bus depots in Broadway, T Nagar and Adyar. 
    Commuters in the city say this could be a solution to the problem of auto drivers fleecing. “It would help to have prepaid counters at malls and cinema halls,” said Sahaya Deepak, a student. “I often pay more for an auto ride than a movie ticket.” 
    Auto drivers are not averse to the idea of more prepaid counters. J Seshasayanam, general secretary, Tamil Nadu, AITUC Auto Drivers’ Federation, says that by not taking a proactive stand, the government is harming the interests of customers and auto drivers. 
    “We do not have any problem with setting up prepaid counters,” he said. “We have filed representations for prepaid counters to be 
opened at the airport, in Egmore, T Nagar and Broadway. The government, however, has not bothered to consider the suggestion.” 
    Chennai Central Railway Station Auto Drivers and Commuter Welfare Society president G Arumugam said 950 autorickshaws operate out of the Chennai Central prepaid auto counter. The prepaid counter opened in 2007 and is open from 4.30am to 10pm every day. 
    Five college students who are all children of autorickshaw drivers are employed as parttime helpers at the prepaid auto counter and are paid 6,000 a month. The money helps them pay their school fees. 
    Arumugam says the prepaid counter at Chennai Central functions smoothly because, unlike at the hundreds of authorised and illegal auto stands across the city, the drivers are not affiliated to any political party. “We also ensure that there are no anti-social drivers at the prepaid stand,” he said. 
    Commuters say prepaid counters will help call the bluff of drivers who charge exorbitant fares and weed them out of the system. 

COPS SHOULD BE POSTED 

We need prepaid auto stands with a police man/ woman who can help regulate pasengers. In places such as Luz, Mount Road, Egmore and Kellys this system has been implemented. Why not across the city? | Bala Subramanian 
I am happy travelling in a prepaid auto from Central because I don’t have to shell out even one penny more than the fixed rates 
Puyal Ganesh 
It will really help even if the auto guys have a so called minimum charge of 25 | Santhosh Krishnan 
The drivers charge based on the locality and we end up paying extra charges to get dropped at home 
Gajendran Chinnasamy 
The prepaid stand at Koyembedu is horrible. They once issued me a ticket and the prepaid auto never arrived. I must say autos and Chennai are two words that just don’t go together. In Chennai, I prefer fast track call taxis rather than autorichaws |
Srinath Rao 
I have travelled by auto from Central.But they have never charged a reasonable fare.They would call the auto driver and ask him for a quotation depending on the destination.They fill that amount in the receipt which is given to the commuters.Those prepaid stations do not work independently. The person at the counter gets a commission from auto drivers for filling up rates that favour them
Jayaprakash Vishnuvardhan

SOLUTION TO THE MENACE: The concept will help in tackling the problem of exorbitant auto fares