Auto-rickshaws rule the roost on city roads. They are the backbone to urban mobility. They have been providing last – mile connectivity at an affordable cost to a majority of the Indian population till now. However, the overall auto-rickshaw experience has become an ordeal off late as Punekars have had to endure refusals from auto-rickshaw drivers to ferry them to their destinations, overcharging is rampant and extremely rude behavior to top it all. However, there are an equal number of drivers in the city who are kind and helpful who make sure that their commuters reach the desired attention without paying extra or getting cheated.
Most of us citizens are wary of being exploited and cheated by the city’s auto-rickshaw drivers and each one of us have stories about how we have been cheated, ended up paying Rs 50 more or taken for a ride by them. That is the experience of local citizens! If you are from out of town, the chances are you have even more chances of being overcharged, taken with the meter turned down or gone around the area a few times in circles only to pay a higher fare. Let’s face it, we love to crib about autowallas. As citizens that rely on the auto-rickshaw to get around, we have every right to be annoyed with the state of affairs. There are some that charge more and can be very demanding when it comes to fares; some may deliberately take longer routes to increase the distance, and some can be rude and refuse to take commuters for whatever reason they may or may not disclose why. The complaints against auto drivers are so familiar to most of us, it seems unnecessary to go into them. Their meters are often broken, tampered with or simply never turned on, forcing the passenger into bad tempering haggling on the road. If a mutually acceptable price proves elusive, the driver just speeds off.
How many people can say they have a regular reliable rickshaw driver who they can count on? Not all of them are the devils. I have seen a number of drivers who are reliable, trustworthy, genuine who do not crib about going to any place or refuse to take you to your destination Over some time, the drivers also build a rapport with their regular customers and the commuter in turn have a driver they can rely on. There have been instances when they insist on returning even a one rupee change, or making sure that you have reached your required destination safely. Also especially during the monsoons, I myself have experienced that the driver waited till I reached my college gate on time and safely. My friend who thought that she had lost her new phone when she left in the auto the other day, got it back the same evening from the auto-rickshaw driver. They are humans just like us, sometimes situations or conditions push them to behave that way.
Somewhere along the road, it’s become the people versus autowallas working against each other whereas the reality is: we the people need the auto-rickshaw drivers and the auto-rickshaw drivers need the people since both rely so heavily on one another in daily life. Getting the two to see eye to eye is not an easy task and may not be anytime soon but there’s no better time than now to start and it’s a process. There needs to be a win-win situation after all. Sometimes it just helps to see the view from where they are sitting too!
Feature image Credits: Kuruman