Chennai: You can’t live with them and you cannot live without them. Commuters around Chennai have a love-hate relationship with share autos. But in Thirumangalam, it is more hate than love.
During peak hours, when traffic is at a standstill and commuters’ temper is on the rise, the share auto drivers stopping on the middle of the road, irritate everyone. Kumar, a bus driver plying this route is someone who suffers daily because of this.
He says, “The Thiumangalam bus stop is located just a few feet from Thirumangalam junction. As soon as I turn left at the junction, there will always be four to five share autos lined up in front of the bus stop, leaving no space for buses to stop and passengers to get down.”
Kumar adds with a frown on his face, “I will have to honk repeatedly to make them move and they will do at their own sweet pace. By the time the share autos clear the space, there will be a long line of vehicles behind my bus. I understand that this is their livelihood, but they should respect the road and people on it, and not behave like they own the road.”
It is not just bus drivers who have problems with share autos. Two-wheelers are one of the worst affected by the rash driving exhibited by most of the share auto drivers.
Satish who rides his Honda scooter to work from his house in Mugappair says, “Share autos coming via Collector Nagar take right at the Thirumangalam junction to go to Anna Nagar. Before that, they stop at the far left corner of the junction to pick up passengers, and they blindly cut across four lanes in a single shot to take the right turn. Once a share auto knocked me down and as soon as I started arguing with the driver, other share auto drivers ganged up and I had to back away.”
This is just one of the many instances of rash driving by share autos. When this reporter approached a group of share auto drivers and asked them about the numerous complaints made by the public against them, he discovered what emboldened them to continue driving irresponsibly and why traffic police do not act against them.
A driver said, “According to RTO rules, share autos are operated under contract carriage permit as that of normal autos. This legally prohibits us from stopping anywhere at will to pick up or drop a commuter. So, all share autos pay Rs 100 to the police each day as penalty for breaking the rule.”
After saying this, he adds with nonchalance, “So, we just show the fine challan slip whenever traffic police stop us. Since we have already paid an advance amount to break the rules. Why is it your concern where we stop?”
Personally, as a reporter who is on my bike most of the time, I have had a couple of clove shaves due to rash driving by share autos drivers.
Though it is common across the city, the problems they pose for commuters at Thirumangalam are a major headache due to the busy traffic there 24/7.