CHENNAI: Passengers arriving at Central Railway Station and opting for pre-paid autorickshaws have a hard time as they have to wait long hours to get an auto for their onward journey. The pre-paid auto drivers say that the Metro Rail construction work has taken up most of the space they previously used as a stand, forcing most of them outside the station complex. Kritika, who arrived from Bangalore on the Shatabdi Express at around 11 am, complained about the increased waiting period to get a pre-paid auto. Stating that going around looking for an auto in the hot sun was tough she said, “I waited for about 45 minutes to get an auto. It is not just me, there is a big queue waiting to get autos. I cannot compare the pre-paid auto service here with the system in Bangalore, which is near perfect. Looking for an auto becomes even tougher with luggage and kids in the overcrowded station premises,” she said.
Members of Chennai Central Railway Station Auto Drivers and Commuters Welfare Society, which runs the service, said that there used to be a stand for close to 1,200 autos in front of the railway station, but after the metro rail construction began in January, hardly 35 autos were able to park inside the station premises. “The rest of them drive around on the roads and we have to call them every time we need their service. Not that it has affected us in terms of revenue. But it affects the passengers,” said G Arumugam, president of the society. Arjun, a techie from Delhi who arrived at around 8.15 pm and waited patiently in the queue for about 30 minutes, decided to walk out of the station to find an auto. “I have come here on official work and I can’t afford to waste time like this,” he said.
Sheela arrived with her family from a holiday in Ooty and claimed that the pre-paid auto service had gone from bad to worse. “As it is they have their issues and make us wait till they bring the auto of their choice. Now there is space only for few autos and we are forced to go out and search and bargain with auto drivers to get to our destination,” she said.