At Rs 40 per seat, Bandra autos make a killing

Drivers operating from Bandra East hike fares per seat; were demanding Rs 40 against the usual Rs 25 as Anna supporters queued up at auto stands

The arrogant auto drivers operating at Bandra (E) outside the railway station, who on a daily basis harass, refuse and at times even abuse commuters for plying them to Bandra-Kurla Complex (BKC) yesterday, for once, ferried travellers to their respective destinations.

Business as usual: Despite 2,000 traffic cops manning the streets,
rogue auto drivers still managed to fleece the commuters.
Representation pic

However, this change of heart was due to the presence over 20 traffic cops, who were posted at the station road to rein in errant drivers and ensure smooth flow of traffic. The cops ensured that these drivers, who usually run amok, plying and refusing commuters as per their convenience, adhered to the norms and ferried only those passengers standing in the queue, irrespective of their destinations.

The traffic department had earlier announced that it would be placing nearly 2,000 of its men between Bandra and Kurla, to oversee that traffic movement remains unaffected when Anna and his supporters hit the street to commence the social crusader's three-day anti-government fast.

"Our main purpose was to ensure that railway stations don't get clogged unnecessarily," said a traffic cop deployed outside Bandra railway station.

Change of tactics
While the errant auto drivers were made to follow the rules, they resorted to a new trick to compensate for the curtailment of freedom to choose passengers. They hiked the fare from Rs 25 to Rs 40 per seat.

"I work at BKC and usually, their charges are fixed. But today, the auto drivers are demanding anywhere from Rs 30 to Rs 40 per seat. I bargained hard and eventually paid Rs 25," said Jai Singh Mohite, a bank employee.

Another commuter, H Srinivas, said, "I came here with my family to participate in the anti-corruption protest.

When I asked the auto driver to go by the meter, he flatly refused and said that the charges would be Rs 30 per seat."

'It's rubbish'
When contacted, the auto unions rubbished the claims that the drivers were overcharging the passengers. "Drivers fleecing commuters must be the illegal ones. In fact, we have supported the authorities in their action against drivers operating with tampered meters," said D Gosavi, a member of Mumbai Auto Rickshawmens Union.

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