Sunday, December 10, 2006

Auto, an (in)convenient mode of transport

Well, the auto has been around for a long time on the Indian roads and needs no introduction. It is an easy mode of commute. The biggest plus is that you can just hop in and out. You don't have to worry about the lack of parking space for your car or the availability of public transport, the bus. You definitely don't have to drive, especially in the crowded/narrow roads. An auto ride is not too expensive. It is Rs.6/- per kilometer, with a minimum of at least Rs. 12/- per ride.

The downside is that you are exposed to the air and noise pollution, since the auto is open on both sides. By the time you commute for about 10 kms, you have a distinct exhaust smell in your hair and clothes. The exhaust smell can also make you feel nauseas. Since the smog checks have become fairly strict, the cars, 2-wheelers, and some autos are almost smoke-free. However, there are some autos and buses that are still very polluting. See pics below.
Smoke from auto exhausts

The second issue is that of the auto fare meter. Most autos still have the "dreaded" mechanical fare meter. Why "dreaded"? Cause they are most often tampered with and read anywhere between 5-20 % more than the actual price. There are very few autos that do not have tampered meters. How do I know this? I have had to go to the same place everyday from home and I have been engaging autos by default. However, I am yet to come across 2 mechanical auto meters that have read the same price at the destination! So, what have I been doing of late? I just tell the auto guy that his meter is faulty and that I have been doing the exact same route everyday and know the exact distance and price. Amazingly enough, the auto guys just accept what I say without any arguments. Clearly implying that their meters are faulty!

The electronic fare meter is SUCH a welcome change. It not only shows the running price, but also the running distance in kms. Makes it very easy to know the exact price for the ride. Unfortunately, the digital meters are seen very sparingly in the Bangalore autos.

Another very positive development is the "identity display system". Every auto must display certain details (see left) of the driver. In case you need to go to the police for some reason, you have enough info to track the driver.

Bangalore also has the "pre-paid" scheme. But the pre-paid autos are only available at some fixed spots like the railway stations, Bangalore city bus stand, M.G. road, airport, etc.

Overall, in Bangalore, an auto is alright if you have to just get from place A to place B, on occasions. But, it definitely cannot be a mode of transport for your regular everyday commute, more so because of the continuous exposure to air pollution.

29 comments:

Balakumar said...

Some of these guys are very street-smart. I know of one driver who has a digital display in his auto that displays train timings, etc; a magazine rack with new magazines... Another one hands out business cards with his mobile number on it and encourages people to call him anytime they need an auto. And he shows up a requested!

And the ones with the rigged meters used to drive me crazy!!!!

Chitra said...

Hey Bala, thanks for the added input. AS always, your comments are most welcome. :)

G said...

On a different note - this morning my commute to work was relatively smooth and I got to work at least 15 mts. ahead of schedule.

On arriving, I was told that the auto (drivers) in Bangalore were on strike. Looking back, may be the air was a bit clearner too :-).

Chitra said...

LOL, G. Maybe we don't need 'em, huh?

Irfan said...

I saw the same today when I was travelling to work. However I have to give some credit to them, sometimes they are the only mode of transportations in bangalore. The city just stops working after 10 or 11, the govt buses are horrible and are far more expensive than other cities.
Well other cities meaning Chennai, where the local transportation run throughout the night and they are very reasonable rate as well.

Plus atleast here in bangalore the meters work even if they are faulty. In Chennai, I have not seen a auto-wala put on his meter. You just tell them where you want to go, they tell you a price and then they just take you for a ride!! (pun intended)

http://irfu.blogspot.com

Chitra said...

Welcome to the blog, Irfan. I didn't know this about Chennai! Deep Sigh!

Anyway, if and when the Tatas introduce the Rs.1 lakh cars, maybe we can just migrate to those from the autos. Considering autos cost more than that. Lets see.

Chitra said...

I meant 'know this about Chennai autos'.

sowmya said...

Hi,

I live in Jalahalli west where I need to triple time of the meter just to reach home from the main road, because government laid beautiful roads are in pathetic state.

Now If I have to commute an auto I will have ask the driver Eshtu- how much will u charge? And he replies as to 25-30 Rs minimum to travel as far as 1.2kms. And if it is after 7 in the evening it will also get double.

Such is the state of Bangalore now. Government Bus service is even more pathetic because we don't know when it will come.

randramble said...

Interesting write-up. But what's missing is the current increase in fleecing of customers. That way, I feel Chennai auto-guys are better...

silkboard said...

Good thoughts Chitra. One thing to add. CNG mess apart, I see a lot of 4 stroke Autos in smaller cities in the North. If not CNG, I wonder why we cant have those in Bangalore. Less pollution, lot less noise.

Incidentally I have something on Tata's 1-lakh car from a different perspective.

Chitra said...

Sowmya, it is unfortunate that you are having to go through with such a service. Isn't there any other means to get home?

Randramble, welcome to my blog. I haven't written about the fleecing, cause I have not come across it ever in these last 2 months. I wasn't even aware of that being the norm.

Silkboard, welcome to my blog. I am a huge fan of metroblogging. Good job. Will take a look at your post right away.

Chitra said...

Silkboard, something's wrong. Can't get to your Tata's 1-lakh car post.

silkboard said...

Late reply, probably I mistyped the URL of that 1-lakh car post there. Never mind.

Have been checking your blog, good going here. I think useful too for guys planning R2I to Bangalore.

Chitra said...

Thanks for your comments, Silkboard!

I have been to your blog as well. Good job there. Very well presented.

Kamlesh said...

Nice blog and a very good information and common problems found within Bangalore City.

Majority of Auto guys are problemetic. But there are some good guys too.

The other day, I was with a luggage and was worried that I will be charged heavily. But I tackled my problem with a Gandhigiri approach and it really worked out well. It was a sunny day and I offered a 2 litres bottle of chilled water out of my fridge to the auto driver. He was happy and took the exact amount as per meter :)

Chitra said...

Kamlesh, welcome to my blog. That was an interesting anecdote. :)

Muthukumar said...

Welcome to Indian Oil!This is near Banaswadi flyover. You have to be here in the morning. There are auto drivers running a parallel BMTC service or a one like the Yeswantpur-Bengarapettu passenger. They will take you through Bypanahalli bypass road to Old Madras Road (near Isolation hospital) for just Rs 6! (Normal rate is Rs 18-20). But in a single auto they will carry a minimum of four or a max of 6. The return journey is the same. A gang of auto drivers survive by these trips only. Nobody knows when the BMTC bus will come and go. These autos rule the roost here. If some stranger offers a lift to somebody, then all hell will break loose. There is no rule of law here. Total chaos and total anarchy. Is the humble CM listening?

Chitra said...

Welcome to my blog, Muthukumar. I am aware of a similar auto service on the Sanjaynagar main road, from Gangenahalli. They do it for 5/- per person. People seem to prefer using it than wait for a bus.

Jeeva said...

Wow, the auto drivers in Bangalore seem to be very disciplined !!
In Hyd too(esp in the Hitech City area - where are the s/w companies are located), there is this concept of "Shared Autos" wherein the auto is not hired individually.
But the catch - the auto driver takes in as many as 10 ppl( including the driver) in 1 auto. Its 5 at the back and 4 sharing the front seat along with him.
Inspite of many accidents to such autos, the policemen are hardly strict about it here.

Jeeva said...

Typo : where are the s/w companies are located => where all the s/w companies are located.

Pulkit said...

Nice post. It's time to embrace BCW [Bus, Cycle, Walk] - the green modes of transport, and resort to auto rickshaws and private vehicles (esp. cars) as rarely as possible!

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Sumit Jalnekar said...

I don't understand why people travel in autos, because it is unsafe and uncomfortable and charging as per meter. There are few taxis in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai who offers service in auto rates.

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