Journey of share autorickshaw drivers is tough in Tiruchi
Unlike in Chennai or Coimbatore, visibility of share autorickshaws that provide the last-mile connectivity, is less in Tiruchi.
Though the Transport Department decided to permit share autorickshaw service in 1998, there are only 50 such vehicles being operated in the city.
The permit is meant to operate the vehicle within a radius of 30 km from the Central Bus Stand but these vehicles are visible only in a few areas such as K.K. Nagar, Karumandapam and Puthur.
There are teething difficulties in operating share autorickshaws.
“We are not able to go to the outskirts. At the most, we do not go beyond 10 km from the Central Bus Stand for regular trips,” said Manoharan, 44, who has been operating his share autorickshaw for a decade. The cost economics do not work well for share autorickshaw operators who charge fare ranging from ₹ 5 to ₹ 10 a passenger for a single trip. A share autorickshaw delivers a mileage of 15 km for a litre of diesel and the running cost is nearly ₹ 5 a km.
“It is not unusual for share autorickshaw operators to be fined for overloading. We are permitted to take five passengers. But there must be at least eight passengers per single trip for sustainability,” he said adding “we do offer concessions to school and college students by reducing the fare by one rupee during peak hours.”
Though share autorickshaws are a preferred mode of service for passengers, operators are are not having a free run.
They are ever under watchful eyes of autorickshaw drivers and private bus operators who fear a fall in their revenue share, Kumar, another share autorickshaw driver said.
The patronage for the limited number of share autorickshaws has been steady due to relative advantages over bus service. Passengers, for instance, enjoy the advantage of alighting at a place of their choice. But, the transport administration has concern over safety aspect.
The haphazard halt of share autorickshaws has been the cause for several accidents, an official said.
“There had been discussions about share autorickshaws at the road safety committee meetings but the topic pertained to unregulated nature of service. Passengers are packed like sardines in the share autorickshaws. The passengers could be found travelling in claustrophobic conditions,” said C. Balasubramanian, secretary, Tiruchi District Exnora, who is also a member of the District Road Safety Council.
As per The Tamil Nadu Motor Vehicles Rules, 1989, share autorickshaw means a motor vehicle constructed, adapted or used to carry five passengers excluding the driver for hire or reward and having less than four wheels.
“We end up paying fine regularly during periodic checks. We are looking at ways to avoid confrontation with the police,” Mr. Manoharan said adding share autorickshaws are being hired privately just like taxies by middle class and lower middle-class people to visit Srirangam, Samayapuram and Mukkombu.
A good number of operators have begun to prefer using their vehicles for such private trips, Mr.Manoharan said.
(source : The Hindu)