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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 23 July 2024

Auto fares double in Salt Lake

A significant number of buses were requisitioned for poll duties for the seventh and last phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Saturday

Snehal Sengupta Calcutta Published 01.06.24, 06:59 AM
Autorickshaws in Ultadanga on Friday afternoon.

Autorickshaws in Ultadanga on Friday afternoon. Bishwarup Dutta

Autorickshaw drivers on several routes in Salt Lake have been charging nearly double the regular fares for the past couple of days.

A significant number of buses were requisitioned for poll duties for the seventh and last phase of the Lok Sabha elections on Saturday.

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Passengers on multiple routes said they had no option but to pay extra because there were very few buses on the roads.

The fare from Ultadanga to Karunamoyee was 30 on Thursday night. The normal fare is 15.

An autorickshaw ride from Ultadanga to Sovabazar Metro station cost 30 on Thursday night. The normal fare for the stretch is 15.

On Friday, autorickshaws on the Karunamoyee-Phoolbagan route charged between 25 and 30 for the entire stretch. The usual fare is 15.

Fares on the Karunamoyee to Kankurgachi route have also been hiked to 30 against the usual fare of 15.

A sizeable section of private and state buses have been requisitioned for poll duty, said an official of the Election Commission of India (ECI).

"An auto driver demanded 50 from me for a trip from Sovabazar to the Ultadanga crossing on Friday. I decided to wait for a bus. After waiting for more than 20 minutes, I stopped another autorickshaw. This driver demanded 30 and told me I would not get a bus as there were very few on the road. I hopped on," said Nabamita Chowdhury.

She was waiting at the autorickshaw stand near the Sovabazar Metro station.

Chowdhury, a resident of Salt Lake's FD Block, said she boarded another auto from Ultadanga station and had to pay 30 for the ride to the Karunamoyee crossing.

Auto drivers on the Karunamoyee-Ultadanga, Karunamoyee-Phoolbagan, Karunamoyee-Kankurgachi, and Karunamoyee-Beleghata Bypass routes said that fares were not hiked.

"A section of drivers were charging extra as many they would be off the roads on Saturday, the day of elections," said an auto driver.

"Many of the autorickshaws will stay off roads on Saturday. We will only ferry voters to booths from their homes. We will lose out on an entire day's earnings. A section of drivers are charging extra to make up for the loss," said an auto driver on the Ultadanga-Karunamoyee route.

Nirmal Dutta, a leader of the Trinamul-affiliated auto union in Salt Lake said fares were not hiked.

Dutta said they had asked the autorickshaw drivers not to hike fares.

"No fare hike has been cleared by us. Illegal autos are fleecing the passengers," Dutta said.

According to Dutta, while there are less than 1,200 autorickshaws in Salt Lake, there are more than 2,500 illegal autos that run without valid permits.

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