N. Ramakrishnan
N. Ramakrishnan

N. Ramakrishnan writes on infrastructure, renewable energy, cement and automobiles, and, of late, entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. Ramki is passionate about journalism; loves nature, reading, bird-watching, photography, politics and urban development.

N Ramakrishnan

Will the autorickshaw drivers now turn on the meters?

| Updated on August 27, 2013 Published on August 27, 2013

Will we see autorickshaw drivers politely ask you to get inside without even questioning you on where you want to go and whether it is a drop only or a return trip?

In a way, the autorickshaws and the autorickshaw drivers symbolise the city, be it Madras in its earlier avatar or Chennai now.

They are unruly (you just need to see them mob you when you are walking out of a train at either the Central or Egmore railway stations or outside any mall or other crowded places), are not afraid of the law (they just don’t care about traffic signals or stop lines or one-way streets, anything goes) and are arrogant (trying to hire them for a trip makes you feel that they are doing you a favour and not the other way around). They are everywhere, but hardly around when you need them the most. And, when the drivers realise you are desperate, the asking rate climbs. They have withstood all competition – personal transportation, share autos and meter taxis, and what not. There is none to discipline them.

But, now that the Government has increased the fares ( the revised fare structure), which the auto drivers themselves have welcomed, will their harassment of the citizens end? Will we see autorickshaw drivers politely ask you to get inside without even questioning you on where you want to go and whether it is a drop only or a return trip? Will we see them turn on their meters without being prompted to do so? And, will the meters show the correct distance and fare and not be tampered with?

Here’s hoping the answer is affirmative for all these and other un-asked questions. That is the optimist in me hoping for some signs that things are changing for the good in Chennai. But the realist in me says that nothing will change. Only the starting price – or the upset or reserve price, as they say in auctions – will be much higher, at least higher than the minimum fare fixed by the Government. The haggling starts from there.

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Published on August 27, 2013
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