How come Bengaluru doesn’t have share-autos?

It is fashionable to talk about doing/changing big things in transportation and infrastructure without addressing the small issues. The government in Bangalore is hell bent on constructing a steel bridge despite huge opposition from all sources. Likewise most such large projects go with their similar issues of controversies. But as they generate media hype and creates publicity, the governments are more focused on the large.big picture issues.

However, it is the small issues that matter equally in these public transportation matter. One may have the best metro/bus service but till they figure how people will reach these stations, there is no point really. Called as last mile challenges but one could skip the entire miles due to this last bit headache.

City like Bangalore has so many of these challenges. It is shocking that autos do not ply using meters in a city like Bangalore barring in a few places. Each time one is negotiating the fare. If pushed to go by meter the driver will ask to pay something above the meter price saying we don’t get return passengers. It is still fine if one is asking the auto to goto a remote place but this amount is asked for even central places. This continuous auto nonsense is one of the factors that has led to mushrooming of 2-wheelers in the city. I don’t understand why can’t the auto association understand this bit that they lose customers by all such tactics.

Then another problem is lack of shared autos as pointed by Sarayu Srinivasan of News Minute. What is quite common in cities like Delhi and Mumbai, is just missing here. In Mumbai, shared autos help ferry many passengers to the local railway stations. Locals are called the lifeline but these shared autos play no less a role. One can argue about their arrogance etc but they atleast make you reach the place. It is only when these things are not there in other cities, you realise their value.

However on reading this article, you realise things are not as easy:

About a decade ago, there had been an attempt to introduce the system, but it had to be dropped for various reasons, says TV Raghavendra of the Federation of Karnataka Auto Rickshaw Drivers Union.

“The general commuter mentality in Bengaluru is focused on comfort. Even today, people prefer to travel in autos alone. The idea of three people being dropped off in random locations puts people off.” 

While he agrees that it could be feasible over short distances, he says passengers often make unreasonable demands. “They will say ‘You have come this far why can’t you drop me home?’ If we refuse they will approach the police. This is unnecessary for us,” Raghavendra says.

However, transport department officials and traffic experts dismiss the idea over claims of “safety” concerns and “illegal operations”.

Traffic expert MN Srihari told The News Minute that safety is a big concern when many autos across the city run illegally. 

“There is a huge safety concern because one does not know who is going to be the person sitting next to you and which route the auto would take. Unless there is a system in place to ensure the safety of the passengers, it is not a good option.”

I mean these are issues which are common across cities but still go ahead with shared autos. Let there be choices and let people decide. I have hardly seen passangers making unreasonable demands of asking to drop other than the shared route. Most likely, the auto person could just dump you if you are the lone passenger and others have moved out.

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