Berhampur: The growing popularity of city buses, launched by the state government, has eaten into the earnings of auto-rickshaw drivers in Berhampur municipality, said a report.
In order to check the veracity of the allegations of auto-rickshaw drivers, Orissa POST correspondent did rounds of some auto-rickshaws in the city.
A discussion with auto-drivers revealed that as city buses provide services at most of the major locations in the city area at reasonably low fares, auto-rickshaws have lost their appeal.
City buses provide special services for women and senior citizens. Reasonably low fares – starting from Rs 8 for AC buses and Rs 5 for non-AC buses per kilometer, CCTVs, online ticketing facilities and an app system to know the routes and timing of buses have made the bus service popular among people.
There is even a discount of 20 per cent for those who use the Odyssey card, specially launched for the service, and 10 per cent on digital wallet payments.
What’s more that it gives services at tourist areas like Gopalpur beach area, Chhatrapur, Hinjilicut, Jagdalpur, Bhairabi Pitha at Golanthar, Haladiapadar and Taratarini Shakti Pitha at regular intervals.
Passengers patronising auto-rickshaws are getting fewer in number with the rise in city buses. At City Hospital Chakka, auto drivers are waiting for their customers in queues.
It has been reported that an increase in city bus services has adversely affected the livelihood of auto-rickshaw drivers. Now it is difficult for them to maintain their family budget.
Even though several rounds of discussion have taken place between the auto-rickshaw association and the city-bus association regarding fixing of different streets for autos and buses, but all in vain.
The auto drivers have taken loans to purchase auto-rickshaws. However, the continuing situation does not allow them to repay their loans on time. With the hike in petrol price, auto-rickshaw drivers are forced to hike their fares too. However, as they are hiking their fares, they lose daily passengers.
Siba Sethi, an auto driver at the city hospital bus stand, said as passengers prefer city buses to auto-rickshaws, it affects our livelihood. It has become very difficult for us to run families with such low income. Increasing demand for city buses is killing our profession, added Sethi.