Auto Tomorrow


Just in case you didnt know, and didnt get the Idea from the title – Auto Strike tomorrow in Chennai.

If there is something that can defame Chennai, its the Auto-rickshaw flavour of it. Sick. Chennai auto-drivers are beyond being unreasonable. They have no logic in deriving a rate for a drive. They wont agree to turn-on their Meters, and even if they do, the meter’s run faster than the Auto itself. You hardly find some auto driver who will not cheat.

Few of the regular public develop special skills to bargain and many win. But most of the new comers in Chennai suffer from cheap-quality cheating. Especially when you are in need to find an Auto at night (“Night” in Chennai means any minute after 7.45 PM) you will need extra-ordinary bargaining skills.

“Saar, Night Hours sir.. I should return empty saar..” – Few auto drivers state silly reasons for the high-rate. Few of them are even adomant. As if they dont care loosing a passenger. There are umpty number of reasons, why they will deny you a service, or why they will ask you for more money.

1. Night Hours = More money
2. Remote Places = Have to travel back empty => more money
3. Short Distances = Cant come.
4. Petrol prices go up = More money
5. Heavy Traffic = More Money..

The worst one is that they dont agree driving to some remote places. “Villiwakkam ellam Varaadhu Saar !” (Cant go to Villiwakkam, Sir). There’s a good dialogue in Anbe Sivam.. I’ll just quote the first part of it. “Panam Koduththalum, Service kidaikkadha Naadu sir idhu ! Thats India for you” (You wont get a service, even if you are ready to pay for it !).

There is no way, this situation is going to change. I like the Auto-Taxi system in Mumbai. They are honest (though there are occasional cheatings) in Meters and they dont hesitate going places, even at midnights. After all the whole city is awake by midnight.

Simple question. Auto drivers have hiked their prices as a parallel measure for the Petrol price hike. They are on Strike tomorrow. Let us say these guys win, and the PM chooses to bring down the rates (just kidding), will the Auto-drivers rollback their hikes ? N.E.V.E.R.

4 Comments so far

  1. nandhu (unregistered) on June 12th, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

    i think the autodrivers have good reason to be jerks. they dont make any money after working their asses off all day. it’s a hassle agreed, but what would they do if the govt hikes the prices of fuel without keeping them in mind. they and the truck drivers should have been consulted and accommodated.

  2. G V Balasubramanian (unregistered) on June 13th, 2006 @ 9:22 am

    The behaviour of auto drivers depend upon the viability of their profession. From my experience in Mumbai with auto and taxi drivers, they have enough trips to make money and the desire to ask above meter does not exist. While auto drivers in Chennai were reasonable during mid / late 80’s, i found in Coimbatore, using meters were unheard of and they were charging flat rates. One good thing about Cbe autos is that there was a uniformity in the flat rates. When I quizzed them why they demand flat exorbitant rates, they complained of Cheran transport’s frequent services and no one uses auto. To be viable they have to charge high rates. Chennai auto drivers get enough trips now, but they have not changed their demand of asking exorbitant rates even for short distance. From Chintadripet MRTS station to CMDA towers the distance is about 1 km, they demand Rs 25/-. Minimum seems to be Rs 20/-

    Incidentally there is a movie being made “Auto” and there is a report in Page 2 of “The Hindu” today.

  3. Ram (unregistered) on June 13th, 2006 @ 12:05 pm

    Yep Auto guys like to make quick money with less number of people.
    I normally use to chat with auto drivers when i travel in auto. Most of the autos in chennai are not owned by the drivers. They rent it on a per day basis.(rent is around Rs 150-Rs200 per day (12hrs a day). For nights it would be around 100-150 based on the auto. Petrol charges are borne by autodrivers. So typically an auto driver needs to make 500/- per day to take home Rs200/-. this doesnt justify the action of auto drivers, but this is one of the influencing factor for an autodriver to charge you more or refuse to come to your area.
    So if you are vulnerable then they are happy to charge. vulnerable here means, you show an urgency to catch a train or have enough luggages that you cant carry or theres no other auto in the vicinity etc. etc. etc.

    So unless the government regulates and comes out with a reasonable tariff (did u know that govts tariff is Rs 7/- per km) and makes it mandatory, the situation will not change.

    Take a look at bangalore, prepaid autos is implemented successfully at railwaystations and even MG Road. The same should be replicated in chennai, but govt has to take the initiative. Without punishment,things will not happen.

  4. Aziz (unregistered) on June 14th, 2006 @ 5:23 pm

    Fact is that Chennai is infested with agents; be it in any profession, the result is a chain of commission gets added to the true rate and end customer gets squeezed up. It won’t be a surprise if it comes out that half of the population here makes a living as brokers aka commission agents whether its renting an auto, taxi, house, hotel, equipment, govt. bodies or any other shadier things.

    In my country trotting experience; the best were auto drivers of Ahmedabad, who even if its a minimum on the meter would never dilly dally in handing over the change. Almost every citizen there conserves fuel by turning off the engine at each signal. Hyderabad and Bangalore auto-driver ethics and moral can never be reached by their counterparts of Chennai in this janam.

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