Money Minting Auto Rickshaws of Chennai

The video is an incident in which me like many other auto-rickshaw commuters in Chennai ended up paying much more than the stipulated amount (Metered Amount – Oops, meters do not work here). The extra amount one pays above the stipulated amount can vary somewhere from 10% to 100%. For new travellers, the extra amount a traveller pays can go upto 200%.

Traffic Meters are installed but are not used by the rickshaw drivers. The commuter needs to fix upon the fare before boarding the auto. Haggling with auto-rickshaws over the fare is an usual scene on the roads of Chennai. Haggling can be based upon your previous amount paid by you for the previous ride to the destination or based on some other commuters’ advice. Even, a day-to-day commuter cannot persuade the driver to agree upon the correct fare. Result – every rickshaw commuter pays much more than what he is supposed to.

I have payed an amount equivalent to the metered amount for the ride only once during my one year stay in Chennai. Thanks to a Tamil speaking person who haggled and argued with the rick-driver. For a non-Tamil speaker the job will be an Herculean Task, a task next to impossible as per my opinion. The only place from where you can board an auto which accepts metered amount is the railway station auto-rickshaw stand. Unlike any other metro-politan cities in India, where few auto-rickshaws stationed at airport or selected few locations charge sum above metered amount, the unfair practice is prevalent and practised by auto-rickshaw drivers of nearly every part of Chennai. Such unfair means practised by auto-rickshaw drivers are reported by newspapers frequently and by many society conscious writers. Many reports of “Auto-Rickshaws being owned by traffic police personnels and hence non-stringent implementation of meter usage by traffic police” have been floated by the media.”

Frequent tariff revisions are institutionalized by authorities to incentize and encourage meter implementation in Chennai. However, the implementing system has been loosely structured and red tapism has inflicted it badly as reported by the media causing an abysmal performance of the system. But, how can we get rid of this menace on roads?

Promotion and encouragement of public transport like State Transport Buses and Local Trains can help the authority confront the situation. For attracting and encouraging travellers to adopt public transport mode, a lot of investments to improve the condition of public transport needs to be made. The public transport needs to match commuters’ needs and expectations. One of the most important need of a rickshaw commuter is time limitations hence public transport also needs to strictly adhere to time deadlines to attract the commuters. Such a strategy of improving public transport system will be a multiple result oriented strategy leading to results viz decrease in road traffic, increase in government revenue, reduction in environmental hazards and monetary saving of commuters.


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