High fares, higher expenses, highest inconvenience

Bangalore Karnataka

Auto drivers are concerned that the increased fares will not help them in anyway and they will lose their customers.

Auto drivers say that rather than increasing fares, reduction in gas prices would help them better as 30 percent of their daily earnings are spent on fuel.

The new rule stated that the basic fare has increased from Rs. 25 to Rs. 30. For every extra kilometer, the fare will increase by Rs. 15. This is the first time that the government has raised the auto fare since 2013.

However, auto drivers say when the fuel prices jumped drastically in 2019, there was no profit. The auto gas price was Rs. 35 in February 2015. With ups and downs, the price reached Rs. 44 in December 2020. The auto gas price today stands at Rs. 69. Similarly, the petrol price which was Rs. 72 in April 2014 reached Rs. 113 today. Chandru, an auto driver from Kumbalgodu said, “Autos running on petrol suffer the most and he fuel prices are high. With this hike, there is no point increasing Rs.2 or Rs.3 on fares.”

Suresh, another auto driver from Majestic said, “The auto gas price has doubled from 2019. The government should do something to reduce the gas prices  so there shouldn’t be any need of an increased fare. When the fuel prices come down, we can operate at an economical cost where the customers will be happy to take an auto.”

Devendra Babu, Professor at Indian Institute of Economic and Social Change said, “This hike will help the auto drivers because they have suffered a lot in  last two years. Although, the fuel prices have increased by almost 40 percent in the past two years, the government has not proportionately increased the auto fares. So here is the problem.”

Suresh said that more passengers now prefer to take public transport than auto due to high fares.

Priyanka. L, an auto commuter said, “I am not sure about the increase in fares because I have rarely seen auto drivers working with their meters. It is usually the word of mouth. Now, with the increase in the auto fares, I expect the auto drivers demanding more and hence I would take a bus or metro.”

Auto drivers are also concerned over the increase in the cost of the auto spare parts. Chandru said, “The old model autos were cost-friendly but the government banned them for noise pollution. The new model incurs huge repair expenses. A gear wire which is Rs. 25 in old model costs Rs. 300 to Rs.350 in the new model. All the auto rickshaw expenses went high.”

Auto drivers pay Rs. 8000 annually on their vehicle insurance and Rs. 1200 on their (Certificate of Fitness) FC..The permit from the government to drive within the city limits mandates that the drivers should pay Rs. 800. Applications like Ola and Uber collect three percent of the ride amount along with a monthly subscription fee.

Nagesh Shetty, an auto driver from Chikkanayakanahalli said, “We are paying huge amounts on insurance and auto FC. The fuel price is also a concern and everyday is not the same. We get good rides someday and nothing on the other. Our cost of running the auto is higher than the increase in fare.”

Dinesh. H.C, an auto driver from Kaveripalya said, “Even with the increased fare, we can expect no profit. We earn Rs.1500 a day out of which at least Rs.500 goes for the fuel. Over this, we need to think about the payments for the Ola and Uber. After all this, a very little amount is left in our hands to manage a decent living.”

Babu said, “The auto drivers suffered inflation, unemployment and high cost of running the vehicle for the past two years. The government should have increased the fares six months back that would have helped them well. ” He added that the lack of unity among the auto drivers is also the reason for an ineffective auto fare hike.