Friday, July 29, 2011

Mumbai's Auto Waalas - Cheats, Thieves, Blackmailers and Robbers...

There was a period of time when auto rickshaw drivers in Mumbai were very professional and ethical people (Yes I have experienced it!!!)

Over the years, and since the last one year in particular, when the fares were increased by 30% in June 2010, they have become far ruder, lazier and more unethical on an average. Almost all meters are manipulated to the extent of at least 10%-15%.

Hailing an auto has become a nightmare for most of us. These people simply do not want to go anywhere. The problem post the fare increase is that they are able to make a living with fewer trips and hence do not give a damn about where commuters want to go since they manage to find enough people anyway.Traffic policemen are too busy harassing hapless commuters to fulfill their official and unofficial fine collection targets, to be disciplining them.

They have no civic or traffic sense. They spit all over the place, have no lane or signal discipline and park where they please.

One of the worst places to hail an auto from is the Airport. It is a complete nightmare. I start dreading that part of it months before I am taking any flight.

Now they have a list of demands:

Firstly, even if they go on strike, I don't think it will affect too many of us. We don't get an auto most of the time anyway.

Secondly, why should they be allowed in the city limits? Aren't the suburbs a shining example of how bad things become with them? The modicum of sanity that prevails in the city will be lost. Imagine places like Marine Drive with autos crawling all over it. Ugly.

Thirdly, just a year back fares were increased by 30% without any increase in fuel prices. What cost of living index are they talking about? Its just plain greed because they think they can make more money.

Fourthly, what do the commuters get in return even if the demands are agreed to? Things will only become worse. With the additional city area for them to ply in, they will only agree for long distances, the way taxis do now. It will be a nightmare.

Fifthly, what assurance can they give about their rude behaviour and refusals to ply? None. They are just out to make a fast buck. And they are increasingly trying to bias it in their favour and make it worse.

I think refusing a commuter should be made a non-bailable criminal offence. Then there may be some deterrent. Let that be a counter demand from the commuters' side.

I wonder how stupid those one lakh people who signed on the petition supporting the auto drivers are. They don't realise they have signed their own death warrant. Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.

The problem is that their demands will be met in some form, increasing the horrors for most of us. If there was a strong Commuter's Union, it could co-ordinate effectively and make sure that commuters grievances were taken into account. We are too scattered and disenfranchised for that. In that kind of a situation, we can't depend on the system to take care. We have to fall back on the old maxim of jugaad.


  1. What will you say about Chennai auto drivers then? They are worse than their Mumbai counterparts in almost all aspects except one : they mostly don't say no, they ask for a very hefty fare - supply-demand economics any one?