Prepaid counters for autos vanish

The system of hiring pre-paid autos seems to have gone haywire, going by what’s happening in the city these days.

While commuters have been quite comfortable with this facility, the ground reality is that prepaid counters at the KSRTC depot and Kaloor bus stand have silently been stopped.

The worst scenario is at the KSRTC bus stand where there have been complaints of commuters being harassed by auto-drivers after the pre-paid counter there were closed over a year ago.

On June 19, a group of auto drivers assaulted a Delhi-based family on a visit to Kerala, with iron rods, just because the couple and their son refused to pay ` 20 more than the meter rate for a short ride from Ernakulam North railway station to the KSRTC bus-station here.

“It’s a fact that passengers, especially tourists, end up paying over prescribed rates, especially at night. The pre-paid auto counter is a must as the proper records of drivers would be available there and there wouldn’t be any dispute over fares.

But so far, there has been no proposal from any of the agencies to restart the operation”, said Ernakulam ATO C. Venugopal.

Similarly, the functioning of the pre-paid counter at the busy Kaloor Junction was discontinued after auto drivers refused to run with rates prefixed.

“We’re in the process of restarting the auto-counters but there are some issues which we are tackling. The counters would be reopened at the earliest”, said ACP (Traffic East) K.S.Baby Vinod.

Sources said auto drivers are not willing to run from pre-paid counters, like what happened in Kaloor, which has put the cops in a difficult situation.

Last week, a major section of drivers “boycotted” the pre-paid counter at Ernakulam North railway station, charging that the rates fixed by the traffic police were “low”.

“We don’t argue with the drivers over fares as they are very rude. There should be more prepaid auto counters apart from the ones at the railway station and Vytilla Hub”, said Athira Rajkamal, a student.

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