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Independence Day gift: Many autos switch to meter system

Image result for metered auto trichyIndependence Day brought good tidings to commuters in Trichy as a group of autorickshaw owners and drivers preferred to go for digital meter system bringing an end to the fleecing that has been prevailing. However, the fares would be based on the new tariff suggested by CITU, the dominant pro-CPI(M) union of autorickshaw drivers here.
"As many as 1,000 autorickshaws started running on meter today. The rest will soon have the meters after getting them repaired," said district president of the association A L Fakruddin Babu. He claimed that their association had 5,000 autorickshaw drivers as members out of the around 6,000 autorickshaws in Trichy.

To start with, the meter system was implemented in autorickshaws at Central, Chathiram and Srirangam bus stands. As per the CITU tariff, passengers will have to pay Rs 30 for the first 1.8 kms and Rs 15 for every additional kilometre. The fare would be slightly higher than the state government-prescribed minimum fare for 1.8 km - Rs 25 and every additional kilometre - Rs 12. There would be no change in the waiting charge of Rs 3.5 per minute and the additional 50 % on day-time charge for night travel.
"It gives us a new hope that we can travel by autos at cheaper fares than before. Even though they increased the fare to some extent, it won't affect the people," said a passenger, A Syed of Palakkarai. All the autos will have a printed tariff card of two pages. CITU has prescribed the fare for every 100 metres after the first 1.8 kilometres up to 21 kilometres. It also gives a comparison between the new tariff and the government tariff. Henceforth, the autorickshaw driver will ask the passenger to pay the fares as per the tariff card. For instance, if a passenger travels 5 kms, he/she has to pay Rs 61 as per the digital meter calculation set by the regional transport office (RTO) earlier. However, according to the new tariff, the passenger will have to shell out Rs 75.
Though the fare seems to be higher than the government prescribed tariff, people may ignore the difference as they can get rid of the arbitrary fares that the autorickshaw drivers had been demanding earlier. The state government's efforts to implement the tariff a few years ago had gone in vain as the autorickshaw drivers opposed to it continued to fleece the passengers. However, the onslaught of OLA has forced them to switch to the meter system now.
"We hope the government won't find fault with us and the people will also accept the tariff considering the hike in fuel prices and the cost of maintenance," said Fakruddin. The officials have left it to the people to decide. "As per the government order, they should follow the tariff of the government. Now, they have increased the fare. If it bothers the people, they can bring it to our notice through the toll free number," said regional transport officer, Trichy west, MS Somasundaram.


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