If you have stayed in the city of Bangalore for any length of time, which included travel by autos, then you will, no doubt, have ‘fond’ memories of those experiences travelling by the famous Bangalore autos and the auto tax of Bangalore. If all the stories related to the autos were to be put in a book then, I think, even a book with 10,000 pages, printed in the smallest font readable by humans, would not be enough to cover the misery that they bring upon the daily commuter.
For the purpose of this piece we will restrict ourselves to the auto tax. Now you might be wondering if this auto tax is something the government slipped in while you were sleeping but it’s not. It is a tax imposed on the unsuspecting commuter when he or she hails an auto in Bangalore. This tax is imposed by the auto driver and can vary in its form. It can be applied as a stand-alone tax or in combination with other auto taxes. So let’s take a look at these taxes shall we?
The Sun down Tax
This tax is applied when the commuter lacks the foresight to plan his or her travels properly or has no other means of transportation available to him/her and hails an auto between the sun-down and 6 am. If you have the indecency to stay out of your house after the sun goes down then you must pay a tax.
The Late-Night Tax
This is tax which can be considered a variant of the sun down tax. It is generally applied if a person is foolish enough to hail an auto after the hours of 8pm. The main components of this tax are the charge by meter plus 50% extra as prescribed by the RTO (The RTO has prescribed specific timing for such charges but auto guys don’t really have the time to bother trivia like that) and an arbitrary number that feels like enough compensation for having bothered the auto guy at that late hour of the night.
The Super Late Night or Early Morning Tax
Yet again we hit upon a variant of the previous two taxes. This time the tax is applied if you hail an auto in the wee hours of the morning. This tax is generally applied because if you don’t agree to pay the tax then you won’t find an alternate mode of transport or another auto, for that matter, at that odd hour. For being stuck in this jam you must pay a tax.
The, “I Don’t Know the Route” Tax
If you get into an auto and have the audacity, the absolute bare faced cheek, to live in an area the way to which is not known by the auto driver then you are liable to pay this tax just because the auto guy has gone out of his way to do his job and get you where you needed to go.
The Destination is Too Far Tax
If you have the nerve to actually hire an auto to go to some place that is more than 12 odd km away from where you are, at that moment, then you are punished by being made to pay this tax. It basically is an amount that you may have to pay over the meter fare or it could be an amount that you have to agree to pay before the guy consents to taking you. In either case for being far away from your destination, you must pay a tax.
The, “I have To Come Back Empty” Tax
There are times when you make the mistake of asking an auto guy to take you to a place from where he might not get a fare back to his area. It is your fault that you didn’t arrange for a return fare for him therefore you must now pay extra to employ his services. For your thoughtless and selfish behaviour you must pay a tax.
The Rain Tax
Something no one ever told you is that auto’s are not made of metal, rubber tubing and fabrics. They are, in fact, made of sugar and when it rains they are in grave danger of dissolving in the rain water and being removed from existence altogether. If it’s raining and you require an auto fellow to risk getting his auto wet in the rain then you need to pay a tax. After all it is your fault that it is raining.
The Out of Towner Tax
This can also be called the new to the city tax and is applied to those who come to the city for the first time. Honestly speaking, someone new to the city is a prime target to be duped because they don’t know the city, which is their own fault. For having made that error you must pay a tax.
The Too Much Traffic Tax
Now let’s imagine a situation where you want to get from A to B and you hire an auto. There is just one problem. Between you and your destination are stretches of road that are full of traffic. This means that not only does the poor helpless auto guy have to take you there but now he has to deal with traffic! For not having the ability to make traffic disappear and having put him, the auto driver, in this position, you must pay a tax.
The Bad Roads Tax
Now this is a tax that is levied on those people who don’t have the courtesy to live in an area that has good roads. It is also levied on those who have the inhumanity to hire an auto to take them to a destination with bad roads. Driving an auto on bad roads might mean that the auto will suffer from excessive wear and tear and for bringing this misery upon the auto driver and not having the ability to magically turn the bad roads into silky ribbons of paving perfection, you must pay a tax.
Today is a holiday tax
You want to go out on a holiday? You have no humanity! Even on this day you call upon auto fellows to take you places! HOW COULD YOU, YOU MONSTER!! For being so heartless and helpless you must pay a tax.
Only the most hard core vultures come out on this day. You see on days when the city is shut, aka bandh, national, state or local, you decide that you want to go somewhere and don’t have the common sense to have your own transport with you, and end up inconveniencing the auto guy by hiring him to take you, you need to pay a tax.
The destination is out of my way tax
All the poor auto guy wanted to day was to go home after a long and hard day of fleecing people and here you are, inconsiderate and self-centred, asking him to take you to a place that might take him a bit off his route home. For this you must pay a tax.
The You Earn a Lot Tax
This is a special tax that is not imposed as much as it is implied. Let’s say you want to hire an auto to go to a tech park or some place that is a little swanky, like a fancy mall or a five star hotel, and you hire an auto to get there; the auto fellow immediately decides that you are someone who is rolling in so much money that you don’t know what to do with it and for that you must pay a tax. (I had almost forgotten this tax so thanks to my colleagues for reminding me of it!)
The Last Minute Surprise Tax
Now this tax is not like the rest. This tax is not spoken of when the contract of transportation is agreed upon by the auto driver and the commuter. This tax is applied upon reaching the destination and jumps up to attack you like a ninja coming out of the shadows. It has the same effect an M Night Shyamalan movie has on you. It leaves you dazed, confused, a little mad and considerably poorer. The tax is applied once you reach your destination, at which time the auto chap will simply increase the amount you need to pay him.
The No Change Tax
Now this is a tax that is levied on those who are cruel enough to walk around with no change. How it works is, when you reach your destination and hand out a big note like Rs. 100 to the auto guy, he just says I don’t have change. This means that you either end up running from shop to shop looking for change or just give up and let him keep the change (depending on the amount of change due to you). It can even happen if you do give change. To illustrate lets take an example. You reach your destination and the meter says Rs. 72 is your fare. You hand over Rs. 80 to the guy but he has no change. So you either come up with the 2 bucks or he keeps the 8 bucks.
It is just sad, the amount we pay as tax to the auto wala. We pay so much in taxes to them that the government should add another section to the IT Act of 1961 and provide us income tax benefits for having paid all these ludicrous taxes on autos.
You know what my favourite part is though? It’s not the taxes you have to pay or how the situation may call for an amendment to the IT Act. It is that the auto fellow would RATHER roam around EMPTY than take you anywhere for the actual cost of the ride!
Luckily we now have some reprieve in the form of cabs. They are generally available at all times and come in various choices of companies. If you are new to Bangalore or are fed up of auto taxes, cabs are a pretty decent option for you.
P.S. For those of you who didn’t quite get it, there is a lot of sarcasm in this post. Have fun finding it! 😉
P.P.S. This post was originally posted on another site owned by me. That site has since been shut down (I couldn’t figure out what to do with it) but this post was something that I wanted to alive on the internet. So it has found a new home on this site. So please show it some love in its new home and do share, like, comment, etc. etc.
P.P.P.S. While these taxes are levied by most auto guys, there is a small fraction of auto chaps who are essentially good. They don’t argue about destinations and take only what is owed to them. They are a bit hard to find, but present none the less.