Autorickshaw unions demand increase in fares

Kolkata, ;Autorickshaw operators in the city and suburbs, who have been allowed to carry two passengers at a time, on Friday said that it will be impossible for them to run their vehicles without increasing fares.With local authorities in some places asking the unions not to increase fares, the operators expressed their inability to run the vehicles at the same fare with only two passengers.

Meghnad Poddar, president of South Kolkata Auto Operators’ Union, said that if a three-wheeler has to carry half the four passengers allowed in normal times, there is no other way except increasing fares to remain viable.”If the auto drivers are forced to accept the normal fares, the vehicles will disappear from the roads within a few days,” he said.

He said the auto operators would incur losses instead of earning anything from plying the vehicles.Santosh Prasad, secretary of a route plying between Hazra and Behala in south Kolkata, said that expenses including road tax and insurance cannot be met if fares are not increased.”What will the owner or the driver take home if even running costs cannot be met,” he said.

Autorickshaws started plying in the city and suburbs from Wednesday but the state Transport department told them to maintain strict social distancing norms, wearing of mask was mandatory or all and autos were allowed to carry only two passengers at a time.Increased fares are being charged in most routes by autorickshaw operators since resumption of services.