Auto Rickshaws in the city have once again come into the limelight with the recent Auto Raid that was conducted by the Bangalore Traffic Police (BTP). On June 30th, over 700 members of the BTP, dressed in plainclothes, embarked on an operation to track down auto drivers who were not doing their due diligence to society. At the end of the 15-hour long sting operation, around 3,350 auto drivers were fined, and 450 autos were seized.The Auto Raid also threw up a shocking statistic – four in every ten auto drivers in the city were errant!
Rules for auto drivers
Under Rule 13 (U) and Rule 16 of the Karnataka Motor Vehicles Act read with Section 177 of the Motor Vehicles Act, there are a number of rules that auto drivers need to follow. Here are some of the rules.
- The driver shall behave in a civil and orderly manner with passengers, intending passengers, consignors and consignees of goods
- The driver shall not demand or extract any fare or freight in excess of that which he is legally entitled to
- The driver shall proceed to the destination named by the hirer by the shortest and quickest route
- The driver shall not terminate any hiring after it has been engaged and before discharged by the hirer
- The driver shall not demand or extract any fare in excess of that which is legally due
- The driver shall not drive the vehicle or allow it to be engaged for hire, unless he is satisfied that the fare-meter is in good working order
- The driver shall not tamper with or allow any other person to tamper with the seal or the working mechanism of the fare-meter
- The driver shall not without reasonable cause refuse to let the cab for hire when the flag is in a vertical position
The entire list of rules can be found as under:
- Duties and conduct of driver of transport vehicle
- Duties of drivers of motor-cabs and autorickshaw-cabs
The fine for violation of the rules listed under Rule 13(U) is Rs 100 for the first offense and Rs 300 for the second and any subsequent offences. The fine for a defective fare meter is Rs 100. The list of spot fines applicable can be found here
For those citizens using auto rickshaws for regular commute in the city, negotiating with auto drivers is no small feat. Especially if one is staying in an area that does not see too much traffic or is remote, haggling about fares, or flagging down a number of autos, before getting one that agrees to go, is a common occurrence. This is not to say there are no sincere auto drivers or that most of them harass passengers. If stats thrown up by the BTP sting operation are to go by, 60% of the auto drivers are indeed doing their duty properly.
However, it is inevitable that one comes across at least one auto driver in the course of the day, who ticks one off just a bit. The common complaints against auto drivers include the following:
- Refusal to come for hire
- Meter tampering
- Demanding excess fare
- Taking a long route
- Rash driving
And in several instances, even verbal or physical abuse.
So what can one do when faced with nasty auto drivers or is subject to their mercy?
Multiple mediums for making complaints
The Bangalore Traffic Police has instituted a number of methods in which complaints can be made against errant auto drivers who overcharge or refuse hire.
24 x 7 Helpline: The numbers than can be called are 080-22868444 and 080-22868550. Do note down the vehicle registration number, so that a complaint can be registered.
SMS: Alternately, an SMS can be sent in the following formats, to 52225 for Airtel customers and to 9663952225 for non-Airtel customers.
- For refusing hire: AUTO<space>REF<space>Registration number<space>Location(from and to)<space>Time. Eg: AUTO REF KA01XY1234 Koramangala to Ulsoor 4:30pm
- For overcharging: AUTO<space>OVC<space>Registration number<space>Location(from and to)<space>Time. Eg: AUTO OVC KA01XY1234 Koramangala to Ulsoor 4:30pm
Email: Yet another means of filing the complaint is to send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org with reason for complaint, auto registration number, location details and date and time.
Website: One can also file a complaint directly on the complaints page on the BTP website. Ensure that you share reason for complaint, auto registration number, location details and date and time.
BTP App: Install the BTP App on your smart phone and register a complaint through the app.
Gowtham T, a police constable with the BTP, who picked up the phone when we tried the helpline says, “Passengers will have to note down the vehicle registration number, else we will not be able to file a complaint. As of now, we are tracking down complaints regarding refusal to hire and overcharging only.”
What happens once the complaint is made?
Once the Traffic Management Center receives the complaint, the complaint is registered and BTP can access it on their Blackberries. Gowtham clarifies, “Once we receive a complaint, we register it. A notice is generated and sent to the owner of the auto rickshaw, who is fined Rs 100. The subsequent time the auto driver is pulled up or looks up the fines against his vehicle, he will know that he has been fined for committing an offense.” He adds, “Once we have registered a complaint, we call the person who has made the complaint and inform them of the same as well.”
While it certainly make sense for passengers to note down the drivers name and driving license number, Gowtham T did mention that BTP would not be able to register the complaint, unless the vehicle registration number had been noted down. So do ensure that you share all the details requested – nature of complaint (refusal/overcharging), vehicle registration number, location and time – to ensure that your complaint is registered.
Better be safe than sorry
While we do hope that citizens of Bangalore are not inconvenienced trying to commute by auto, there are a number of precautions one can take to be better safe, than sorry.
- Take an auto with the new meter.
- Check if the auto driver seems polite at first sight. Avoid getting into autos which seem run-down.
- Ensure that you are going as per meter before you begin your journey. One and a half times the fare is standard only for journeys between 10 pm and 5 am.
- Have a fair idea of the route you want to go through, before boarding the auto, to avoid arguments later.
- Sometimes, drivers could be unfamiliar with the area that you want to go to, so ensure the driver knows the route, before boarding the auto.
- Make a note of the registration number prior to getting into the rickshaw.
- Check for the driver details displayed behind the driver. Those who don’t display it might have some reason to do so.
- Once you get into the rickshaw, make a note of the driver’s name and his driving license details. You could share it with a friend or family member over sms or WhatsApp.
- If you are travelling alone or late in the night, you could call a friend or family member and stay on call for the entire duration of your journey.
- In case you are harassed and would like to hash it out with the driver, ensure that you do so in a public place that has other people nearby.
- Avoid arguing near the auto stand – generally the experience is that auto drivers find strength in numbers.
Things are looking up for Namma Bengaluru
In 2011, the fourth IBM Commuter Pain Index Study, declared Bangalore as the sixth worst city in the world to commute in. Three years since, it still is a pain to commute in the city. However, it must be acknowledged that BTP has played a key role in reducing this burden. Whether it is through their road safety workshops or by embracing technology and rewarding drivers through its Sugama Savari campaign, it is constantly on the look-out for new ways to improve the current traffic-related issues. Their new complaint system should hopefully help in curbing the auto menace that plagues the city.
It is also important to note that for every story of harassment by an auto driver, there is one about a sincere driver who returns bags left in his auto. Only a few days back, Bangalore Mirror had a story about an auto driver who drafted a driver discipline chart with ten commandments that would be followed. There are also several organisations such as Peace Auto and mGaadi, who are working with auto drivers who vow to go as per meter fare only.
With all these measures in place, the city is certain to see some much-needed improvement in the auto-travel segment.