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Old 7th November 2011, 18:53   #1
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Default Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

Autorickshaws (letís just call them ďautoĒ, shall we?) as we all know are part of common transportation across India. However, passengers are also victims of fare harassment from most of the drivers, owing to non-adherence of installed meters with government approved fares.

I spent a good amount of years in Chennai where the meters are non-existent and auto drivers quote the figure only their minds know how they arrive at. I have had the habit of chit chatting with auto drivers in terms of understanding why they think the government rates are unfair.
These are the usual reasons I get from them:
1. Rising fuel prices
2. Non-availability of return passengers from their drop-off point
3. Incompetent meter rates from government owing mostly to point#1
4. Rising living cost

Nonetheless, my observation concluded that it is mostly the driversí perception about the above mentioned reasons that has almost made them as a community to believe it and take this as a habit to quote on their own.

I once took to the task of doing a realistic calculation while riding one, and even reasoned it out to the driver and asked him to think about it. I just thought it would be better to put it here as a means to reach out to the community at large.

So letís do this. Iím going to take a known territory for me to illustrate this: CHENNAI.

RATES:
First things first, the government meter rates in Chennai are: (Source: RTI INDIA - Your right to know - the Compete Right to Information Portal of India)

Government Approved fare for Auto Rickshaws plying in Chennai as per G.O.Ms.No 48 Home Department dated 10.01.2007 are as follows.
Minimum Fare: Rs.14 (For 2 Km)
For every Km: Rs. 6

Next, average mileage of an autorickshaw: 35 kmpl (Source: Wikipedia & local auto drivers)

Petrol Cost: Rs. 80 per litre with oil mix(Approx).

Hence, average cost per km: Rs 2.3

Average Maintenance Cost: Rs. 1000 per month (Approx)

Maintenace Cost per day will be: Rs. 33

BASIC ILLUSTRATION:

Case 1: Distance Travelled = 2 km.
Fare: Rs. 14
Petrol Cost: Rs 4.6

Case 2: Distance Travelled = 5 km.
Fare: Rs. 14 + (3* 6) = Rs. 32
Petrol Cost: Rs. 11.5

Case 3: Distance Travelled = 15 km.
Fare: Rs. 14 + (12*6) = Rs. 86
Petrol Cost: Rs. 34.5

EARNINGS ILLUSTRATION:

Let us assume that in a typical day, an autorickshaw takes about 30 trips with an average of 150km.
His earnings for the day according to meter will be:
Base fare: Rs.14*30 = Rs. 420
Additional Km Fare: Rs.6*90 = Rs. 540
Total fare: Rs. 960
Petrol running cost: Rs. 2.3*150 = Rs. 345
Maintenance cost per day: Rs. 33
Total running cost: Rs. 378
Average earning per day = Rs. 582
Average earning per month = Rs. 14550
Worst case scenario = Rs. 10000 per month.

Not bad, huh?
Since petrol prices have raised in the past 4 years after the revisal, a fresh rate card with better rates could be even good news here. Also, the night fares will be 1.5 times the day.

REALISTIC ILLUSTRATION:

Now let us look at realistic scenarios.
Scenario 1: Central Station to T.Nagar
Distance: 8km
Actual Meter Cost: Rs. 14 + (6*6) = Rs. 50
Rate Quoted: Rs. 150!!!

All they have to do is about 6 trips like this and voila, they got their earnings which they make with the meters on and about 30 trips!!
So now we know why they demand their own fares!

Some of them follow this knowingly for the greed in them takes over and some of them do it for the sheer ignorance and misconception that the government rates donít do justice to their hard work.
If at least this misconception can be changed, even that minimal percentage will bring about a change!
And what about Peace of Mind? Not just for the passengers, but also for the drivers! Imagine the stress they go through to negotiate and fight with passengers every time, every trip.

So this is what I did Ė I asked the driver for the basic rates from his mouth and took up illustration with meter rates to make him understand in simple terms of what a dismal difference it makes in their earnings compared to bargaining. He somehow vaguely understood it. Then I told him to try it out for just 1 day and see how it works out. If he feels justified, he could continue. And if he is convinced, he could then talk to his auto stand peers about it and also ask them to follow the same.
Like the saying goes, a small drops make a mighty ocean, right?
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Old 7th November 2011, 19:28   #2
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

I use Autos quite often in Mumbai,Surat,Chennai and Trichy and would rate them in the following order for being reasonable
  1. Surat - most reasonable - avg cost/km Rs.6 CNG
  2. Mumbai - next best - average cost/km Rs.9 CNG
  3. Chennai - average cost/km Rs.15 Petrol
  4. Trichy - not worth talking about - average anything between Rs.20-30 Petrol
In the case of 3 and 4 , I have seen that they are lazy bones and their approach is just to do 5 trips a day,overcharge and earn their daily bread.

I have even suggested to many rick drivers to adopt the sharing formula of taking 3 passengers on sharing mode,but they seem adamant not to change.

The most "reasonable" auto I took in recent times(Jan2010) in Trichy was from Central Bus Stand to Airport for 100 bucks(at 11pm)
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Old 7th November 2011, 21:33   #3
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vigsom View Post
I use Autos quite often in Mumbai,Surat,Chennai and Trichy and would rate them in the following order for being reasonable
  1. Surat - most reasonable - avg cost/km Rs.6 CNG
  2. Mumbai - next best - average cost/km Rs.9 CNG
  3. Chennai - average cost/km Rs.15 Petrol
  4. Trichy - not worth talking about - average anything between Rs.20-30 Petrol
In the case of 3 and 4 , I have seen that they are lazy bones and their approach is just to do 5 trips a day,overcharge and earn their daily bread.

I have even suggested to many rick drivers to adopt the sharing formula of taking 3 passengers on sharing mode,but they seem adamant not to change.

The most "reasonable" auto I took in recent times(Jan2010) in Trichy was from Central Bus Stand to Airport for 100 bucks(at 11pm)
Generally Tier 2 cities and towns will not follow any meters for the reason (as they claim) that there aren't as many customers for them as in cities. But they do have "stand rates" specific to auto stands with a sort of fixed rate for famous destinations within their limits.
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Old 7th November 2011, 23:29   #4
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

Thanks for the detailed explanation on the expenses of autorickshaw guys. Just a doubt. I heard that most of the autos are owned either by policemen or someone with political background. In that case, the auto drivers had to pay a daily rent or monthly rent (I guess you took the case where autos are owned by auto drivers themselves, but correct me if I am wrong). In that case, could you please throw light on how they manage paying rent for the respective owner and also manage to earn their daily bread?
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Old 8th November 2011, 00:03   #5
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bottom Torque View Post
Thanks for the detailed explanation on the expenses of autorickshaw guys. Just a doubt. I heard that most of the autos are owned either by policemen or someone with political background. In that case, the auto drivers had to pay a daily rent or monthly rent (I guess you took the case where autos are owned by auto drivers themselves, but correct me if I am wrong). In that case, could you please throw light on how they manage paying rent for the respective owner and also manage to earn their daily bread?
Yes that's definitely a case to study and a point I missed!.
I believe the normal rent per day is around Rs.250-300 per day of 12 hours. So they would still make about Rs. 600-700 a day amounting to Rs. 7500 which is almost close to a private car driver's salary. Please note that the illustrations I've taken up are on conservative numbers.
The point here is that they still do earn a decent one for their living.
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Old 8th November 2011, 00:24   #6
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

Really interesting thread this! Thanks for starting it.

Here is a short documentary that is perhaps relevant to the discussion.

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Old 8th November 2011, 02:32   #7
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by anekho View Post
Really interesting thread this! Thanks for starting it.

Here is a short documentary that is perhaps relevant to the discussion.

Fantastic find! Thanks for sharing it anekho!
It gives the views of all stakeholders involved!
Like this honest driver says, they don't lose on the number of customers, rather gain from the good will they build.

Last edited by luvurride : 8th November 2011 at 02:41. Reason: Added a line
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Old 8th November 2011, 04:20   #8
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by luvurride View Post
Then I told him to try it out for just 1 day and see how it works out. If he feels justified, he could continue. And if he is convinced, he could then talk to his auto stand peers about it and also ask them to follow the same.
Like the saying goes, a small drops make a mighty ocean, right?
Next time when you meet him there is one more thing that you should tell him. More milking of customers is only making customers choose an alternative means of transport.

I for example did not use an Auto for many many years until last month and now i have to use an auto for the last mile to get to office. I would always use the Volvo bus or some other means of transport and not the Auto. I am working towards replacing the last mile of Auto with some better connection. Once i find this alternative connection i would stop using the Auto altogether.

So who is loosing at the end of the day, The Autowala.
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Old 8th November 2011, 06:45   #9
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

@Luvurride, intresting topic there, but you have put it in a very simple way. Almost every auto has a rigged meter. The electronic/digital meters are easier to tamper. And hence the figures you have mentioned are pretty conservative. You will need to up all those figures by atleast 10% (for the less dis-honest ones), and 15% for many others. And then there are "night charges'. Even if you end your trip just before 10 pm. Or start just before 6 pm. And those guys who give excuses to charge higher (no return fare, saar !).
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Old 8th November 2011, 08:44   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by luvurride View Post
Not bad, huh?
Since petrol prices have raised in the past 4 years after the revisal, a fresh rate card with better rates could be even good news here.
In Bangalore, most Autos run on Gas and back in Kerala, all the new ones are oil burners. I guess the Gas is priced at around INR 45 approx at Bangalore. No idea on the F.E. but shouldn't be too different to Petrol. And this lowers the running cost even further.

For use in Bangalore, there is a service provider which gives Auto Fare through SMS. The number is 90088 90088.

Send a SMS with both your location and destination as you'll get a reply back with the approx dist, the fare and the detailed route. For ex: Send "MG Road to Indiranagar" to 90088 90088 and you'll get the SMS reply in 30s.

It's a great help to negotiate the fare beforehand, know the route or to find out how rigged the meter is.
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Old 8th November 2011, 10:57   #11
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankjha1806 View Post
Next time when you meet him there is one more thing that you should tell him. More milking of customers is only making customers choose an alternative means of transport.

So who is loosing at the end of the day, The Autowala.
Oh yes, believe me the reasoning I gave him followed with all the +es and -es which included this also. I even told him that when I'm really not in the mood for bargaining(read fighting), I prefer to take metered taxis and even pay more instead of losing my peace.

Quote:
Originally Posted by condor View Post
And hence the figures you have mentioned are pretty conservative. .
True Sir, but the whole point is just to take this as a benefit to the autowalas and make them understand the reasoning that even with conservative figures, they make decent dough.

Quote:
Originally Posted by deetjohn View Post

For use in Bangalore, there is a service provider which gives Auto Fare through SMS. The number is 90088 90088.

Send a SMS with both your location and destination as you'll get a reply back with the approx dist, the fare and the detailed route. For ex: Send "MG Road to Indiranagar" to 90088 90088 and you'll get the SMS reply in 30s.
That's fantastic, never knew that! and I'm sure not lot of Bangaloreans do! So definitely a useful piece of information. Thanks deetjohn
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Old 8th November 2011, 12:26   #12
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by deetjohn View Post
For use in Bangalore, there is a service provider which gives Auto Fare through SMS. The number is 90088 90088.

Send a SMS with both your location and destination as you'll get a reply back with the approx dist, the fare and the detailed route. For ex: Send "MG Road to Indiranagar" to 90088 90088 and you'll get the SMS reply in 30s.
Just tried this out and works like a charm!
They even have a website: Latlong - Bangalore
Very useful indeed!
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Old 8th November 2011, 12:58   #13
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

I am not sure the SMS system can be implemented in Chennai. The no of autos are more than 1.50 lakhs in Chennai. Hence the chance of getting passengers is less for every auto. Whenever they get passengers they bang with heavy charges. From Central station to Perungudi, the prepaid auto fare is fixed by govt is 200rs (about 18kms). The same distance from Egmore station to Perungui is around 300rs as there is no prepaid booth is available. We need patience to bargain with Chennai auto people.
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Old 8th November 2011, 17:16   #14
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kiran View Post
I am not sure the SMS system can be implemented in Chennai. The no of autos are more than 1.50 lakhs in Chennai. Hence the chance of getting passengers is less for every auto. Whenever they get passengers they bang with heavy charges. From Central station to Perungudi, the prepaid auto fare is fixed by govt is 200rs (about 18kms). The same distance from Egmore station to Perungui is around 300rs as there is no prepaid booth is available. We need patience to bargain with Chennai auto people.
That SMS system just gives you the approximate meter fare from Point A to B. This helps if you are not a regular in a route and really do not know what the meter rates are. You can just use this as information to negotiate with the autowalas when they quote over the roof and tell them to be sensible at least to certain extent.
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Old 8th November 2011, 19:01   #15
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Default Re: Common Man's Transport: Autorickshaw - Do meters do justice?

You have left out few important components.

1. Capital cost. A new on the road rick costs about 1.25 lakh - interest at 12% works out to mere Rs. 500 per day.
2. Depreciation - say 8% works out to a cool 333.33 INR per day.
3. Insurance and taxes - not sure, but at least INR 50/- per day.
4. Hafta (unauthorised demands form people who break the law)
5. Bribe (unauthorised demands form people who are supposed to enforce the law)
6. Fines for traffic offences

Does the math ramain same now??


Best ricks -

1. Trichur
2. Kozhikode / Calicut,
3. Kannur


Worst

1. Ernakulam / Kochi
2. Thiruvananthapuram.

Outslde KL, Chennai and Delhi have given me some lousy experiences; Mumbai has given me some pleasant surprises (how about Rs. 120/- from vicinity of IIT to Airport - Int'l terminal. (The host had suggested slightly more).

In Bangalore, sometime in 1994, I had the shock of my life - when a rick guy gave me some small change - to make the amount exactly tally with the meter charge.
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