Yesterday, I travelled from Mysore to Bangalore on a KSRTC bus and got down at Nayandahalli at around 9:30 PM along with my wife and a 3 year boy. I asked auto wallah standing at the bus stop if he can come to Kattriguppe, he stays quite for sometime and says '100 rupees kottubidi saar', asked another auto, he says 'aa kade inda kaali barabeku saar, 80 rupees kottubidi' (while returning I have to come empty, give 80 rupees). Katriguppe is less than 4 kms and metred auto fare costs less than 30 rupees. 100 rupees is more than triple metre.
This was not only my story, but lots of other passengers as well. Scene of looking for empty auto coming on the road and waiving their hands thinking the 'ego' of Autowallahs in the stand was quite common. Some could get 'better deals' and some were hoping for buses to come.
One of regular traveller young guy said lots of empty buses comes till 11:30 PM, why do you want to pay so much. Immediately a company shuttle came and started shouting 'Kattriguppe, Katriguppe'. Auto wallahs face turned red when their customers took the bus. We got onto bus, which was empty and had comfortable seats and reached Katrriguppe by paying 10 rupees costing only 5 per person. Little walk from Bus Stop to home, but it was OK.
Lakhs of people travel to and from Bengaluru to many other cities using Trains and Buses. If someone comes to pick to you from Railway Station or Bus Stand, although you reach Bengaluru comfortably in a Volvo or a Shatabdi/Rajadhani, the struggle to reach home is a major problem. If you are alone, and not with much luggage, and not so tired,you can walk to Kempegowda Bus Stand and take up BMTC. But when you are tired, and have lots of luggage and with family, you quickly want to take an auto and reach home. If somebody from home comes to pick you in a car or bike, you feel you are in heaven. This is why people travel in cars to different cities, causing congestion on highways and toll plazas as well as accidents loosing their near and dear ones.
This is cashed in by Autowallahs of Bangalore. They ask price directly instead of putting the metre which would be 2-3 times the metre fare. Only few Railway Stations and Majestic Bus Stand has got pre-paid auto counter. It is not even present in hi-tech satellite bus stands such as Byatarayanapura and Shantinagar. Many passengers get down in other places such as Nayandahalli, Satellite Bus Stands such Shantinagar and Byatrayanapura etc. Here, passengers struggle hard to catch hold of auto.Question is why Bangalore Traffic Police is not starting Pre-Paid auto counters in these prominent passenger alighting places.
Coming to pre-paid auto counter, there is a day light robbery going on in Majestic and Railway Station. All these pre-paid counters are operated by Auto Associations and not Traffic Police. The fares here are more than metre fares. Many passengers will pay by thinking they are paying the right amount. For example, a recent trip to Railway Station from my home Kattriguppe on a digital metred auto costed me 65 rupees, on my way back, in the pre-paid auto counter, fare was allocated as 90 rupees. When I questioned the that, they said it is calculated to the end of the locality. Actually, my home is at the end of the locality, from that spot itself, fare was 65 rupees to Railway Station. Also, these auto counters will be having long queue due to absence of autos. Lots of autos do not enter the pre-paid queue and want to do business outside. They will catch hold of passengers coming outside station and ask 'Yellige Saar?'.
Mysore had more worse problem than Bangalore. Even now the problem persists, but, the traffic police have started pre-paid counters at Bus Stand and Railway Station. Fares are all fully strictly controlled by Traffic Police and any extra asked, we can complain. Prompt action will be taken which I experienced personally when the auto asking for more fare was seized by traffic police. Any auto passing in front of Bus Stand / Railway station is caught hold by Police and made to take the pre-paid auto counter passengers.Why not in Bangalore?
What Bangaloreans need is better Auto and Taxi facilities as soon as they get down at Bus Stand / Railway Station, not just swanky bus stands which are constructed at hundreds of crores utilizing JNNURM funds. We need multiple counters in dense bus stands and railway stations to reduce the queue. Passengers should be able to reach Bangalore at any time without thinking 'How will I get Home?' Hope our Traffic Police and Government make this workable one day.