Chennai: “We welcome the High Court order to revise the fares of auto-rickshaws. Considering the price rise of all items, we don’t know whether the public would be able to afford the revised fares. Hence, we are insisting on launching a ride-hailing app with the funds available from the Tamil Nadu Auto Rickshaw and Taxi Drivers Welfare Board,” TNATS president Balasubramanian said.
He said that the state government should launch the app based on the neighbouring government’s Kerala Savari app to rope in all auto-rickshaw drivers. Pointing out that the private ride-hailing apps charge about Rs 30 per ride as a service charge from passengers and drivers, he added,” If the government launched the app, they could directly get the GST from passengers apart from charging Rs 15 per ride. All expenses would be taken care of with Rs 5 per ride and the balance could be split equally between the government and driver.”
In Tamil Nadu, there are 3.2 lakh auto rickshaws across the state with about 1.2 lakh in Chennai alone. In the city, 70 per cent of the autos are running on autogas while the rest are on petrol. A litre of petrol is sold at a price of Rs 110.85 while the autogas at Rs 73.17 per kg. At present, the minimum fare is Rs 25 for the first 1.8 km and Rs 12 per km thereafter.
Gangadharan, an auto driver at Ambattur said that the number of rides he gets in a day has decreased drastically post-COVID and free rides for women passengers in the transport corporation buses. “With high fuel prices, it’s tough to make ends meet by driving an auto. Only my debts have increased in the last two years,” he rued.