Monday, January 04, 2016

Delhi Autorickshaws - Beware, It Is Time You Fell In Line

The average autorickshaw driver in Delhi continues to get away with overcharging or refusal even though over three years have passed since one such misdemeanour cost Jyoti Singh her life in a brutal gang-rape-cum-murder.  And now that the balance of demand and supply has been further tilted by the odd-even formula imposed on private four-wheeler owners by the Delhi Government, the informal surcharge over the metered rate has been informally upped again.  As has, I was told in a whisper by one autowala at Hauz Khas metro station when I challenged him recently, the hafta he pays to the local beat constable for the privilege of being able to stand at the top of the stairs and solicit disembarking metro commuters.

Luckily, I have been experimenting with a few techniques of my own over the past couple of years since I abandoned driving between my residence in South Delhi and my office in Gurgaon and took to the Delhi Metro / Rapid Metro Gurgaon combination instead.

It is time I shared these with you in the hope that you will spread the word.  Three techniques below all seem to work nicely.

1. Before you ask an auto if he will go wherever it is you want to take him, check to see if the On Duty board is up.  If so, just use your cell to click photos of the number plate and - if possible - of the person.  Then ask.  See the difference.

2.  If an auto refuses, wants to go without meter or gets aggressive because you took his photo or for any other reason, walk away and send the complaint by any of these methods - SMS, Phone call, FB Post or Mail.  I have tried all of them and they all seem to work.

3a. If you are in a bind and must succumb to overcharging, politely ask him to switch off his meter (usually they won't even bother to switch it on).  THIS IS IMPORTANT.  When you arrive at your destination, get off and pay him the minimum fare - Rs 25.  He has no proof he deserved more.  Make a racket and attract attention if he protests; I have had a couple of errant drivers slink away when a crowd gathered.

3b. Same as 3a above, except that you make him drop you at a police station or in front of a cop close to the destination you mentioned.  Keep two printouts of this document Delhi Autorickshaw Complaint Template  handy and just fill in the blanks.

Join me in putting an end to this menace.



While I hope in vain for a corruption free world, I think it is not unrealistic to expect a national capital city where autos and taxis run by meter - as they do in India's commercial capital, Mumbai.