Kumbalgudo auto drivers hike fare at will

Although Bangalore auto rickshaw drivers enjoy a reputation for being more willing to use their meters than auto drivers in other big cities, this reputation doesn’t extend to the suburbs.

The auto fare in the rural suburb of Kumbalgudo is hiked illegally day and night, and if the rider doesn’t live locally, he or she is likely to really be taken for a ride, with the driver asking how much the would-be passenger is willing to pay instead of using the meter.

“Last time I came from Kumbalgudo to my college, the auto driver charged me the return fare, too,” said a student at a college near Kumbalgudo. The student explained that because his college is in a village, the auto driver figures he might not get a customer on the way back.

“If it’s raining, the auto drivers will say, ‘But it’s raining,’ and charge more, and if it’s nighttime, again they will say, ‘But it’s nighttime,’ and charge double,” said Phuntsok, a cook at the Dalai Lama Institute for Higher Studies on Mysore Road nearby Kumbalgudo.

“Even if it is in the daytime, the auto drivers in Kumbalgudo say, ‘There’s traffic congestion,” and charge extra,” Phuntsok added.

According to the law, auto drivers may charge double between midnight and 5a.m., and they may charge 50 percent more between 10 p.m. and midnight, an official at the Regional Transport Office in Bangalore said.

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