Friday, September 14, 2012


There is a campaign initiated by the Times of India going on in the city. Autorickshaws - always a big stick to beat Chennai with - have apparently been going around without using their fare meters for several years now. The Times of India has been trying to muster support to bring back metered fares for the autorickshaws and to ensure implementation as well. 

It would be great if that can happen. Though there is no data to lean back on, every conversation about Chennai's autos brings in the ownership theme; according to a study in 2010, less than 40% of the drivers own their autos, with the rest taking the vehicle on daily rent. While an owner-driver would clear about Rs.250 a day, the hirer-driver would only take away a fifth of that. Any of these numbers would be chimerical; with almost the entire business running on a cash-and-carry basis, we have to lean back on the sob stories from the drivers. 

Or from the commuters. Of which there is an inexhaustible supply. Most of the time, the 'nice' stories don't make for good news. The regulars know the fares on their normal routes and rarely does one of them complain about being fleeced. Maybe more of them should start putting in their fare data on to this site, which is trying to crowdsource such information. Maybe we should pay more attention to the stated intent of the auto stands, like on this board here. It has a long list of what the drivers would and would not do. But who among us gives them a pat on the back for sticking to the code?

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