More than a week ago, federation president P.K. Sukumaran said a stand-wise fare system could be tried out in the absence of any effort by the State Government to fix a separate fare for Coimbatore. The Government had fixed Rs.14 as minimum fare in 2007 and the unions had rejected it saying it was too low when compared with the cost of fuel, spare parts and maintenance. The federation suggested the stand-wise fare to win the faith of the public. The question posed to the federation is: when hundreds of call taxis it describes as unauthorised can fix a uniform fare, why cannot the authorised autorickshaws have one?
“How can they fix a stand-wise fare when they do not use the meter? This system cannot provide a solution,” says T. Sampath Kumar, member of Kural – a citizens’ group that had discussions with the public, consumer bodies and autorickshaw drivers to work out a meter fare system.The drivers will continue to demand what they want. Mr. Sampath Kumar wonders how the drivers can fix the fare even without a fare chart.
“This is very funny. The unions cannot fix a stand-wise fare when rules do not provide for different fares for even town and cities,” Coimbatore Consumer Cause secretary K. Kathirmathiyon says. Mr. Sukumaran says the fare chart will not work anymore in the city. When the chart system was introduced six years ago, it was shot down by consumer organisations who argued that it was unauthorised. “As they know the distance between two points, such as Gandhipuram Town Bus Stand and the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital, the drivers can work out a reasonable fare,” he says. At present, the minimum fare over a particular distance varies from Rs.30 to Rs.50, he admits. Some uniformity can be brought about with the stand-wise fare.
As for using the meter, the State Government should take a decision on the demand for Rs.20 as the minimum. With no sign of this happening, it is better to work out fares agreeable to both the drivers and passengers, he arguesMr. Sampath Kumar says the public will not buy any explanation the unions offer to justify the fares they fix arbitrarily. Mr. Kathirmathiyon dismisses the proposal saying it is just a gimmick by the federation to attract passengers who are avoiding travel by autorickshaws.