Nandan Nilekani, the erstwhile leader of the UID initiative and Congress candidate for the Bangalore South Lok Sabha seat, wrote this blog post about making auto rickshaws work in Bangalore.
He appears to have talked to some auto drivers (not clear how many) and has accepted some crucial facts at face value. Specifically, the one about auto drivers’ monthly net income being Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,000. Several commenters (including the good folks from Meru Genie) have pointed out that it is at least Rs. 10,000 and perhaps as high as Rs. 20,000 to 25,000. There would be wide variance of course since it’s a function of how many hours one drives and whether or not the said driver is a price gouger.
What Nandan does get right is that driving an auto is one of the first jobs migrants arriving in the city seek out. It’s also true that they don’t have a stable income nor do they have any social security or benefits.
There were several interesting comments. I’ve cherry picked my favorites.
Nitin Karn has this idea for a prepaid/cash card..
Yes, a nice idea. Just to explore it a bit more, we can have auto stations, where in ppl can go and buy & pay for tickets from one place to other. With that ticket one shall be allowed to board any auto he finds. Also, day/weekly/monthly passes could be explored this way making it pretty convenient for ppl to commute at odd hours.
Sathish Yadav has a gripe on Nandan getting the data wrong. He has an intriguing analysis of the vicious circle of commuters being inconsiderate to drivers being exploitative.
For that I believe the baseline has to be set properly first… A leader must call head a head and tail a tail, if he gets his information wrong on the first attempt, what is he going to achieve… This is a such a dynamic area where situations change dynamically like traffic hours, peak traffic hours etc; passengers must be human enough to pay more in case of horrible traffic or really bad roads etc; From my experience with auto drivers is that, they are willing to come to any place you call them… provided you compensate them reasonably in case of hiccups but they say most passengers don’t do that… after seeing all this many auto drivers have to compensate for rides which were economically bad… They end up exploiting human weakness in times of festivals and events… both actions are unfair… In the end it just boils down to people… I have enough social skills to go through these situations without getting cheated or cheating anyone… but not everyone knows the value of a smile and a warm talk… Rules don’t work in such a dynamic field unless insane monitoring is in place…
Abhishek Mittal proposes restricting autos to a subset of the city (presumably like Mumbai) and also advocates electric rickshaws, now plying in Kolkata. On a related note, Delhi also has thousands of electric rickshaws.
Coming to autos, Govt should start sharing-autorickshaws in only dedicated routes like the one in Kolkata (I don’t know which other city has that). Since, the auto fare is now almost equivalent to the cabs, autos should not be allowed to transport passengers all over the city. That’ll reduce traffic a lot.
Shorter and shared trips means low cost for individuals and high income for drivers. Drivers won’t have to crib about “lautne mein passenger nahi milega” and turning away most passengers for demading extra money.
I was reading about e-Autorickshaws that are running on pilot basis in Kolkata. In single charge for 7 hours, they consumes only 3 units of power and run 120km! They could be really a great option for short distance travel (offering last mile connectivity). Check out Dianzi Rickshaw.