Saturday, 7 May 2016

The auto nightmares

I am having nightmares for last few days. Nightmares of being left behind by the auto drivers as I am not being able to provide them the change, the nightmare of getting my knee joints crashed! Nightmares of having a bitter fight with auto drivers as I asked them to take the legal fare.

Ok, let me tell you the background of these nightmares. In Agartala, the roads are not that wide, as a result, artery roads are not capable to handle buses. The people here too are in so much hurry that most of them are reluctant to take lengthy bus rides. The main mood of public transport in Agartala is Auto rickshaws. They enjoy the monopoly and abuse it fully.

The Agartalites by now must know the pain oned had to endure while traveling in auto even a year back. I remember when I joined my college, the fare from my college to Battala (8km around) was ₹7. The drivers used to carry 4+5 passengers in an auto designed to carry 3+1 passengers. As the area was a suburb, traffic rules were not that stringent. Even at places where traffic police was present, they just avoided conflict with auto drivers. Thus our roads were full of illegally and dangerously over loaded vehicles.

A year or so back the Govt. imposed strong laws and the traffic system was brought to life Autos were forced to carry not more than 3 passengers. It dramatically improved passenger comfort. A fare hike was imposed by Govt. it took the fare that was previously ₹7 to ₹10. The auto drivers themselves hiked the fair more and took it to ₹13. Still we were happy as first time Agartalites could sit properly in an auto.

Good things are short lived, we got the instance few days back. In Agartala to remove congestion Govt. decided to erect a flyover. For the construction purpose, some routes are diverted, including the route to my college. The autowalas too a cunning approach. They started carrying 5 persons, as a compensation to the diversion they had to travel. For a single kilometer extra travel, they were having ₹26 bonus.

The autowalas here in agartala are very much organised. A common man can't even dare to mess with an auto driver as they fight in herds. This organised approach by them is even feared by the traffic police. They never carry change and if your fare is ₹13 you need to give them ₹10+₹3 all in change. My experience in quite opposite in Kolkata Metro and buses where change is never a problem. To be frank, I drooled over the bag of coins carried by the bus conductors.

I hope the anarchy that is currently there is public transport system will be solved and we will again be able to ride autos like a king. An advise for those who are visiting Agartala, please carry enough change. You may try motor pulled rickshaws or tuk tuks as alternative, though they are a bit slow. If you liked my post do share and let others know. Thank you. Keep visiting.

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