Call it Metro miracle, arrogant city auto drivers turn humble

Published: 25 October, 2011 06:57 IST | Sheetal Sukhija |

Infamous for refusing to cover short distances, drivers now readily ply anywhere on Metro route; the move comes as a boon for passengers as BMTC has failed to keep its promise of running adequate feeder buses

Infamous for refusing to cover short distances, drivers now readily ply anywhere on Metro route; the move comes as a boon for passengers as BMTC has failed to keep its promise of running adequate feeder buses
Within a week of the launch of Metro services, the infamously arrogant autowallahs of the city known for blankly refusing to ferry passengers to their destinations, seem to have witnessed a change of heart.

Passengers prefer autos to feeder buses as the frequency of
BMTC buses is very low one bus every 20 minutes

Now, they are readily ferrying passengers to Metro stations without any fuss about shorter distances, thanks to the low frequency of the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation's (BMTC) feeder buses.

Ironically, the Metro services, which many anticipated would end the monopoly of auto drivers and spell doom for their business, has actually become a boon for the autowallahs.

The autos are now doing brisk business as the BMTC has apparently failed to keep its promise to ply an adequate number of Metro feeder buses for better connectivity.

Low frequency
When MiD DAY conducted an informal survey on the frequency of feeder buses, it was found that only a few buses were plying, and the frequency was one bus every 20 minutes. This leaves passengers with no option, but to hire autos to and from the Metro station.

Welcome aboard
The auto drivers, known for their arrogance and blatant refusal to ply on short distances, are now greeting Metro commuters with broad smiles.

"Earlier, the same auto drivers would refuse to take me from Indiranagar to Domlur, which is a 2 km stretch. Their complaint was that the distance is very short, but now they readily agree.
I believe that with the number of Metro passengers increasingly day by day, they are more than happy to ferry people shorter distances," said Radhika Rao, a student boarding the Metro from Indiranagar.

Bane or boon?
The auto drivers have also heaved a sigh relief, as their worst fear that the Metro would kill their business is unlikely to come true. "We were initially very scared that we would lose business after the Metro becomes operational.

Now, we are baffled at the number of customers we get around the stations. Earlier, we had termed the Byppanahalli area a dead zone for us as we hardly got any commuters there. Now every half an hour, we get almost 30 passengers asking to be dropped off in close by areas.

We are making more than double our daily income because of the Metro," said Hariprasad Kundala, an auto driver, who has now permanently parked himself outside Byppanahalli Metro station. Auto unions said their business had seen a boost because of lack of planning by the BMTC.

"There is no doubt that the Metro is a better mode of transport for the city. The BMTC has failed to add an adequate number of buses on the routes, so we are making the most of it.

Customers plying on the Reach I stretch are looking for a short ride to their desired destination and we have changed our strategy accordingly. Now, we are shuttling between shorter distances and making a lot more.
I have made almost 20 drops  since the morning to close by areas and luckily, I've found an adequate number of people here, who want to be dropped to the station," said Shivakumar, an  auto driver at Ulsoor.

Has BMTC failed?
BMTC has put 60 Metro feeder buses around all the six stations falling on the Reach I stretch. As the frequency of buses is low one feeder bus every 20 minutes passengers are hesitant to wait too long.
The BMTC officials say that they can do little about increasing the frequency of buses as they have limited resources.

"We have initiated services of 60 feeder buses. Every 20 minutes a feeder bus operates, but people are not using our facility.
The response has been very bad and so now we are inviting feedback from customers to understand their problems," said Prabhu Das, Chief Traffic Manager.

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