Crackdown keeps errant auto drivers on their toes

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Crackdown keeps errant auto drivers on their toes

Police Inspect 2,000 Autos, Book 300 Drivers For Various Offences

Only a sustained and strong campaign may be able to make autorickshaws in the city ply by the meter, the latest round of crackdown that began on Monday indicates.

Joint teams of the city traffic police and transport department inspected 2,000 autorickshaws and detained 50 of them for either refusing to ply by the meter or overcharging.The booked auto drivers face a minimum fine of `2,500. Booked for minor offence were 250 auto drivers who were fined `100 `500 for not producing registration papers and licence or violating pollution standards.

As the city traffic police and transport department resumed the operation after three months, some drivers argued, some resisted, many meekly paid the fine and apologised. Drivers were still hoping that the campaign would fizzle out after a few weeks. If it is sustained, some drivers said, they would have no op tion but to fall in line.

Some seethed in anger when stopped for inspection.

On Arcot Road in Valasaravakkam, auto driver Louis Xavier shouted at the authorities when asked to pay fine for not plying by the meter. The motor vehicle inspector at the checkpoint, J Ramarathinam said, “When we stopped the auto, the passenger complained that the driver was charging `50 in addition to the meter charge. The driver began using expletives when we impounded his vehicle.“

Most auto drivers felt there would be no need for a crackdown if the minimum fare was raised from `25 to `30. For a minimum of 1.8 kilometres, the basic charge is `25, while `12 is charged for every extra kilometre. Drivers at the auto stand in Nandanam said, “For every extra kilometre, the rates must be raised from `12 to `15. We have no reason to overcharge if the government fixes realistic rates.“

They also blamed share autos for eating into their business. At an auto stand in Poes Garden, a driver said, “Share autos charge only `10 and they are also assured of passengers. We are not as lucky because we have to run empty at times.“ Auto driver Ezhumalai M said, “For every `100 I spend on fuel, I make a profit of `200, whereas share autos make at least `400.“

When an auto driver on TTK Road was found not plying by the meter, passenger Aishwariya M said, “My destination is only a kilometre away. The driver asked me to pay the minimum charge `25 and insisted on not putting down the meter. I agreed.“