If you are a Bangalorean and are not ambivalent about auto rickshaws, chances are you have read Bangalore Mirror’s cover story – The Auto Raid. The twitterverse is abuzz, #TheAutoRaid is trending, and there’s much bonhomie and kudos wafting around. As there should be. The auto drivers in Bangalore (painted with the broadest brush) aren’t a loved community and any attempts to rein in the bad apples need to be applauded. But there’s one statistic that casual readers may have missed in the article. Here it is, in the second paragraph itself.
The Bangaloreans’ pet peeve was vindicated: the cops found that four out of 10 auto drivers were errant, either overcharging, refusing to ply to one’s destination or just being downright rude, and more.
This means that SIX out of TEN auto drivers are honest, not overcharging, not refusing, not rude… Let me repeat that.. this time with emphasis.
SIX out of TEN auto drivers are honest! (gasp) Could it be that 60% of Bangalore’s auto drivers…
- DO NOT overcharge?
- actually go where YOU want them to go?
- are.. err.. polite?
Surely a 15 hour sting operation can’t yield statistically significant insights? Let’s look at the numbers to answer that question.
- 3,350 autos fined plus 450 autos seized = 3,800 bad apples
- If this represents the ‘4 out of 10’ auto drivers, the total number of auto drivers ‘frisked’ was 9,500
- Official RTO accounts list the number of auto rickshaws at 160,000
- So the studied sample represents 6% of the population
I don’t earn my living as a statistician but 6% is a pretty darn significant sample size. Moreover, the nature of the sting operation suggests that the sampling was quite random. Even if certain locations were oversampled, this data is superior all other anecdotal data and mini-polls out there.
If we extrapolate, it suggests that Bangalore might have a whopping 96,000 auto rickshaw drivers of the good kind.
For about 18 months, we at mGaadi have been saying that between 33% to 50% of auto drivers in Bangalore are good, going-on-meter folks with a polite disposition. Turns out we were not optimistic enough.
Coming to a few nuanced points:
- The # of auto drivers exceeds the # of auto rickshaws. The consensus number for Bangalore drivers is 200,000 (on the low side).
- The ‘4 out of 10’ auto drivers statistic is actually the wrong statistic. The right one would look at trips, not drivers.
- Looking at overcharging and refusing destinations purely on the driver dimension is simplistic and incorrect.
- There are drivers who will go on meter all the time. Then there are the unambiguous bad apples who will never go on meter. The third group (the largest) might overcharge based on time-of-day, destination, or weather conditions.
- It’s thus possible that a subset of drivers who got fined on Monday are not habitual overchargers (you know.. just like automobile drivers in US who get speeding tickets don’t always drive fast).
So far we have enrolled 4,300 drivers into the mGaadi network. We plan to end the year with 20,000 drivers but perhaps we set our goal too low. What do you think?
Would love to hear from Bangalore’s auto rickshaw commuters.