How to Rate an mGaadi Driver – Chronicle #102

By | Autos | 4 Comments
Pic courtesy

Pic courtesy

Chronicle #101 is rather simple. In fact, let me summarize it real quickly.

  • Driver reaches your pickup location on (or before) time and gives you a missed call.
  • Driver is courteous and polite to a fault.
  • Driver observes all traffic rules.
  • Driver has exact change
  • You give him a perfect 5-star rating!

Chronicle #102 was related to me today by a regular mGaadi commuter and reads like the scorecard of a gymnastics championship judge.

  • Driver doesn’t bother coming to the exact pickup location.. making you walk 100 meters.
    • 1 point reduced.
  • As he passes by LPG filling station, driver suddenly decides he needs to fill up. Then turns around and demands advance payment of Rs. 50.
    • 1 point reduced.
  • Driving as though speed bumps don’t exist or he was driving an SUV.
    • 1 point reduced.
  • After reaching destination, as you rummage through your purse looking for more change (since you already gave him Rs. 50 at the filling station), driver starts lecturing you (with a surly attitude) “if you didn’t have change, you should have told me at the filling station“.  You manage to find exact remaining change of Rs. 77.
    • 1 point reduced.
  • Net rating: 5 – 1 – 1 -1 -1 = 1 star


Anatomy of a driver mixup

By | Autos | No Comments

What are the odds of an mGaadi customer mistakenly getting into ‘another’ mGaadi auto?

To answer this question, I must first tell you how customers and drivers are supposed to find each other.

After we successfully assign a driver to a customer’s trip, appropriate SMSs get sent to customers and drivers. The customer SMS includes the name and mobile# of the driver and also the auto’s registration #. Android and Windows Phone customers also get additional details like the picture of the driver (when it’s available), what languages the driver speaks, color of the auto (green or black), etc.

We also have the mGaadi sticker. The sticker has not been distributed to all the enrolled drivers and is also not enforced. So we don’t know what percentage of the 1,100+ auto rickshaws sport the mGaadi sticker.

The answer to my original question is “low”. In fact, in our service’s brief existence a mixup has never happened.

Until yesterday.

Last evening, a customer arrived at the pickup location, saw an auto sporting the mGaadi sticker and promptly clambered in. A st cursory (and careless) examination of the auto display card didn’t ring any alarm belle – the first syllable of the driver’s name matched with the assigned driver’s name so the customer announced the destination and off they merrily went. Meanwhile, they left behind a highly miffed driver who had incurred “dead miles” to reach the pickup location for a trip (of reasonable length) that he was promised 45 min ago. Ouch.

Why is this blog worthy?

Firstly, this is a reminder that we need to do a better job of communicating to customers that they should double, -check the auto registration number and driver’s name before getting in to the auto.

Secondly, it’s heartening that while the 1,100 drivers are but a tiny speck (relative to Bangalore’s overall auto population of 160,000), we still had a mixup between TWO mGaadi autos.


BRING IT ON, Bangalore!

By | Autos | No Comments

Dear mGaadi commuter,

On Oct 1 ’13, when we beta launched our call auto service, we had 300 auto rickshaw drivers. On Dec 12, when we released our Android app, the number had jumped to 500. Two months later (Valentine’s Day to be precise) that number doubled. We are now at 1070. Yes – that is 1,070 auto rickshaw drivers in the mGaadi Bangalore network.

Between Dec and Jan, we kept a low profile on the customer outreach front, largely to manage the trip fulfillment rate. We are now comfortable with the pace of driver enrollments and fulfillment rate is holding at a healthy level.

Has it been a perfect journey so far? Heck no! We’ve had our share of drivers-not-showing-up, customers-cancelling-last-minute, and some rare standoffs too. But the emerging patterns along with the large number of driver ratings are showing us the way forward. 1,070 drivers and thousands of mGaadi trips later, we are now saying to Bangalore auto rickshaw commuters – BRING IT ON!

Bring it on? Yeah – book an mGaadi auto. From ANYWHERE in Bangalore. No second guessing on where the mGaadi autos might be. Just book away. We’ll try our darndest to fulfill your booking. If we are unable to come through, we’ll try even harder to fulfill your next trip.

How to book an mGaadi auto?

  1. mGaadi Android app (Download here)
  2. mGaadi Windows Phone app (send a request for beta access to
  3. From your mobile (or desktop) browser, access
  4. Call (080) 6768 4983

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Interesting suggestions on Nandan Nilekani’s auto rickshaw blog

By | Autos | No Comments

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.


The ‘No Tension’ way to commute

By | About, Autos | No Comments

[Note to non-Indian readers: No Tension is a  common phrase used in North India to refer to no stress.]

Last week, a first-time ecstatic user (Swapna) sent us the following unsolicited feedback. I’ve reproduced it verbatim except the Hindi subset which I translated to English.

First time used it….no tension of going on road to search an auto. Came before time and no extra charges… nothing on top of meter etc. Just 2 words: “No Tension!”

THIS is the essence of the mGaadi for Autos experience. No need to go out on the road searching for an auto driver that’ll go on meter. The matching auto will come to you. If you haven’t checked out the How mGaadi Works 1-minute video, please give it a try.


1000 Drivers and other mGaadi Updates

By | Autos | No Comments

Screenshot_2014-02-15-21-59-44On Oct 1 2013, when we beta launched our call auto service, the mGaadi network had 300 auto rickshaw drivers. On Dec 12, when we released our Android app, the number jumped to 500. Two months and 3 days later (i.e. today), that number has doubled. Sometime this afternoon, we crossed the 4-figure mark and are now sitting at 1005. Yes – that is 1,005 auto rickshaw drivers in the mGaadi network.

In the recent past, we’ve been keeping a low profile on the customer outreach front, largely to manage the trip fulfillment rate (trips fulfilled/trip requests). With the driver enrollments and fulfillment rates at healthy levels, we’ll start a broader push towards new customer enrollments.

Many other exciting updates so please keep reading on.

Windows Phone app in beta testing

Do you have one of those slick Nokia Lumia smartphones? If you’d like to try the mGaadi app before our official release, just email us at

If you have some other smartphone, feel free to email us with model/OS details.

Android -> And then there were SIX

Screenshot_2014-02-15-22-26-29There used to be five ways in which you could select your dropoff and pickup locations. Now you can pan and zoom on a nifty Google Map to select your locations. The crosshairs viewfinder will remind you of your favorite   James Bond movie.

Android -> Share the Love

The oft-requested feature is finally here. If you are a regular user and want to  share the love, look for the Share App option in the context menu.


How many drivers in mGaadi network?

By | Autos | No Comments


Every friend, investor, acquaintance (and the odd commuter too) wants to know the answer.

The commuter wants to know because she is wondering when she’ll start mGaadi rides from ALL parts of Bangalore. For the investor it’s the answer to “are these guys getting traction?”
For us at mGaadi, it’s both these answers so we look at this number daily.

Every few months, we’d update the FAQ page but that’s what some plain speaking friends would call “retarded”.

We have a better way now. When the splash screen in the Android app loads, we make an API call and (voila) the latest and greatest number is displayed. As of Feb 8, this number was 924.

Will you see this functionality on

Not anytime soon. We want you guys to download the Android app (and Windows Phone/iOS apps soon as well)… (evil laughter ensues)

mGaadi Web Booking… now LIVE

By | Autos | No Comments

Last evening we released Version 1.0 of our web booking feature.  It doesn’t have the styling of a Windows Phone or the pizzaz of our Android app. It also doesn’t have any personalization.

But it works. So do give it a whirl.

If you don’t have an Android smartphone and you are not the type who likes to “call” to make an auto rickshaw booking, this is the feature you’ve been waiting for.

Since we don’t yet have built-in mobile verification, one of our customer service agents will give you a call to confirm that the phone# you entered is correct.

Happy auto rickshaw hailing and booking!



Auto puja at the Ganesh temple

By | Autos | No Comments
Brand new auto getting divine blessings

Brand new auto getting divine blessings


We frequent the Ganesh temple in Koramangala every once in a while. The ambience is serene, the outside area is spacious, and peaceful vibes all around.

The temple is a favourite venue for car pujas — from the high and mighty with their BMW’s and Lamborghinis (I kid you not!) to regular Joes wheeling in their Honda Activas.

During our last visit, we saw a brand new auto rickshaw at the designated puja place. I whipped out my camera and after getting an indulgent nod from the driver (man in checked shirt), clicked this picture.

I resisted the urge to hand the man an mGaadi flyer. There’ll be time enough for that.

The difference between a car puja and an auto puja? I don’t claim to know the mantras uttered by the priest but I reckon that invoking the divine for safe transportation is common to both. In the latter, the priest must also be invoking Goddess Lakshmi to bless the driver with many years of prosperity behind the wheel of his livelihood vehicle. Amen.

Why do auto drivers keep going on strike?

By | Autos, Commuting | No Comments
Pic courtesy Karnataka Photo News

Pic courtesy Karnataka Photo News

Every time there’s a price increase in the government mandated auto rickshaw meter, the middle class daggers invariably come out. When the auto unions exhort the drivers to go on a strike (most recently when the LPG prices were raised by Rs. 11/liter), the daggers get sharper.

Someone posted the following on Facebook

There is some fundamental issue with autos in Bangalore. The fares are higher than Bombay Delhi Pune. My sense is that the standard taxi fare in Bombay is lower than the auto fare in Bangalore. Yet the attitude sucks n they are going on strike ? What’s up?

After a friend tagged me on the discussion, I responded with the following..

On Sun we were at a favorite lunch spot, the manager alerted us that they’ll be raising prices soon due to the upcoming hike in LPG prices. This brings us to point #1.

  1. A commercial establishment can raise prices in response to rising costs; auto rickshaw rates are set by the govt/RTA so all they can do is protest/lobby.
  2. The recent fare hike (Rs. 25 minimum and 13/km) tips Bangalore past Chennai (at 12/km).
  3. Most people paint the entire auto rick community with a broad brush but we believe that at least 25-30% of the 1.5+ lakh auto drivers go on meter, are polite decent folk (and we are working to onboard them into the mGaadi network).
  4. Most of the time when an auto driver refuses a trip, it’s because he has his own heuristics (which areas he knows, which trip will get him an easy follow-on trip without incurring ‘dead miles’, etc.). In short, heuristics for daily income determinism.
  5. When a drivers asks, say Rs. 30, extra during rush hour in a traffic snarl, he’s trying to compensate for the reduced income/hour. Contrast this with Olacabs’ rush hour surcharge or Uber’s hybrid pricing of “Rs 2 per min” on top of the basic “Rs 18/km”. As commercial operators, Ola and Uber can legitimately adopt this kind of pricing whereas the RTA-mandated auto drivers cannot.