Bangalore: The recent auto fare hike has forced people to think about alternative modes of transport. BMTC is hopeful that the increase in auto fares will lead people to use buses more frequently. But taxi operators too are seeing it as a good opportunity to venture into the market. And those who can afford it, are beginning to think it’s high time they bought a motor bike or car.
Anjum Parvez, the managing director of BMTC said, “We are expecting that the rise in auto fares will indirectly benefit BMTC. The people who are used to taking autos for long distance are likely to make a shift to buses.”
He said BMTC is planning to start local services to help people meet the last mile connectivity. “We will first start in Vijaynagar. If it works there, we will introduce it in areas like Shantinagar and around major TTMCs. Although it is very early to talk about it, we will have to see the trend in the next few weeks.”
Currently, BMTC is working on the project of mini buses that will solve the issue of last mile connectivity for many. These buses will run from Jigani to Attibele and will start from the first week of January.
“These are Ashok Leyland buses. One bus has already arrived and we are working on its body in our workshop. As of now, we have ordered 150 mini buses which will be a high frequency feeder service,” Parvez said.
The increase in auto fares has reduced the difference in fares between autos and taxis drastically. R.V. D’Souza, Joint Commissioner of Transport (Bangalore urban) says, “The margin between taxis and autos has narrowed down considerably. People will definitely start preferring taxis over autos.”
But taxis are less easily available and not as popular as they are in cities like Mumbai and Kolkata. In the long run, though, taxis will certainly take over, D.Souza predicts. “Besides the major four taxi operators in the city, there are many new taxi operators that have applied for licence. With these new operators making their foray into the city, things might change,” he said.
Traffic expert Professor M. N. Sreehari believes buses will benefit the most. “With improved infrastructure of roads and BMTC buses, more and more people will take to the bus service. I would love to see people make use of public transport.”
Many citizens feel they must buy a two-wheeler. “I would rather spend that money on a two-wheeler or four-wheeler than give it to auto drivers,” reasons Konkana Sen Gupta, a resident of Jayanagar who travels to Seshadripuram, five days a week.
Voicing a similar opinion, Chidananad, a marketing employee says, “Buying a vehicle would be the wisest thing to do given the circumstances. Neither can I wait for the metro to be completely ready and fully functioning, nor can I take a bus as I will end up wasting a lot of time. I have a field job and it requires me to travel a lot. I am left with no option but to buy a vehicle soon.”
Auto unions are confident the tariff hike will not see any falling off of daily passengers. “I do not think with the increase in price hike there will be any impact on the flow of customers for auto rickshaws in the city. Regular passengers will take the auto irrespective of the fare,” said Manjunath who belongs to the Adarsh Auto Union.