Pune: After a long train journey, if a passenger is stepping out of the Pune railway station, the last thing he/she would want is to haggle with rickshaw drivers over the fare to reach their home or hotel.
A substantial amount of time is wasted by the commuters in trying to fix the fare of the ride with the drivers - all this when a simple solution like going by the meter is not exercised by the rickshaw drivers.
The team of reporters from Sakal Times posed as commuters at the Pune railway station at 8 am, a peak time as many trains arrive at that time, and found that almost all the zealous autorickshaw drivers were charging extra for any destination, near or far. Everybody refused to go by the meter.
Sachin, an autorickshaw driver, demanded Rs 200 till Viman Nagar when our team members enquired. On negotiating, he agreed on Rs 150.
Sukhdev, another driver, explained that the fare demanded by drivers is according to the prepaid auto booths’ rates, or “just a difference of Rs 20-25 more can be there.”
The team went to check fares at the prepaid booth, but it was shut, with no timings mentioned on when it will reopen.
Shailesh Bhapate stationed at the second gate demanded Rs 250 for Aundh drop, which is just 9 km from the railway station. “If you ask any other driver, they will also charge the same,” he said.
He said since the destination was inside a lane, he is charging more, when in reality, the destination was just 100 metres away from the main road.
Sohini Roy, who visits Pune quite often for work, said she is sick of negotiating with auto drivers. “I used to walk 100-200 metres outside the station gate and flag down an empty rickshaw. From my experience, outside the station gate, they are more open to going by the meter.”
Now, she prefers to book a cab or auto through Ola or Uber mobile apps.
Undue advantage of strangers
† At the Pune railway station, rickshaw drivers refuse to ply by the meter and charge exorbitant fares.
† They take advantage of many who are new to the city and have no idea of the distances.
† Some were demanding more than Rs 170-200 for a distance of 8 to 10 km, which generally cost around Rs 90-100 by the meter.
CP promises action
† After a series of reports in Sakal Times about the apathy of autorickshaw drivers towards commuters, Commissioner of Pune police Rashmi Shukla said that special teams will be deputed to take action against the erring drivers. “The Traffic branch has been asked to take necessary action against such autorickshaw drivers. Even then, there have been complaints. Now, I will form a special team which will keep an eye on busy junctions and take action against autorickshaw drivers who refuse to ply or behave rudely with passengers,” Shukla told Sakal Times.