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Survival instincts: Auto drivers agree to shed arrogance

Auto drivers' daily income drops drastically as Metro popularity swells; they consider improving behavioural skills
 
The Metro appears to have spelt a doom of sorts for the autos, prompting the infamously 'arrogant' autowallahs to spare a thought about changing their irritating mannerism and being cordial to commuters.


Auto drivers who were making almost Rs 4,000 daily since
the Metro launch, now earn a paltry Rs 500 a day


Having seen an unusual boom in business for a few days after the Metro launch, the auto drivers are now witnessing the much-expected gloom. MiD DAY spotted a group of at least 10 auto drivers waiting for hours outside each of the six Metro stations, but there were hardly any passengers to ferry.

The auto drivers, who were making around Rs 4,000 per day after the Metro launch, now manage to earn a paltry Rs 500 a day due to lack of interest of customers. Still, many autowallahs could be seen camping outside stations and wailing away time helplessly hoping to attract customers.

"The Reach I of the Metro has robbed us of our sleep and it may rob us of our livelihood too, if something is not done at the earliest. The very thought of all stretches of the Metro becoming operational gives us goose bumps now," said R Shivkumar, President, Auto Rickshaw Drivers Union.

Shivkumar admitted that a few auto drivers had attitude problems, but said, "It would be wrong to call all auto drivers arrogant. Many of them are very humble and docile.
 
A few stray incidents of wrongdoing have created a lot of negative publicity for us. It is upon us to save our business now. We have to work on our behaviouralskills and build a positive image, if we have to survive in the market."

Helping hand
Moved by their misery, the traffic police department has now started a workshop to train auto drivers in behavioural skills. The weekly workshop is being held at the zonal level and has become quite popular amongst the auto drivers' community, especially in East Bangalore, where Reach I is operational.

"We had had a tough time reigning in these auto drivers' initially. But now they are more than willing to mend their ways, so we are training them in etiquette. This will help them improve rapport with commuters," said M A Saleem, Additional Commissioner of Traffic.

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