Is this the end of the rickshaw as we know it?
The future of three-wheelers in India
Recent news and events on rising fuel prices bring about an interesting debate over the future of rickshaw, the iconic symbol of India’s roads.
For those who are not familiar with it, the auto-rickshaw is a motor vehicle with three wheels used both for passenger and goods transportation. Imagine that for Eeastern Europeans, for example, used to carrying shopping bags through the inferno of the public transport system and long way walkingwalking long distances, crowded Indian traffic with its loud unceasing horns is just paradise. Why? Because of the little life-saviour vehicle which can carry one from the front of his house to the _ and back. (The blank space can be filled according to wish: hypermarket supermarket or station or school and the list may go on). And that in a reasonable price too, at least until recently. The rise in the price of fuel already has had a direct effect on the rickshaws’ fare. But talking about fuel, this Fuel is another important aspect of autos;, they can run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) or Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG). Compressed natural and liquefied petroleum gas are more environmentally-friendly than other fossil fuels which in turn make auto rickshaws more ecological. All in all, the three-wheelers are an excellent option for short distances that cannot be covered by public transportation or by cabs. , either radio or run-of-the-mill ones.
However, it looks like this situation is not going to last much longer. Competition is just around the corner and obstacles aren’t lacking too. The Government’s’ wish is to phase out this means of transport. In 1997 the Supreme Court of India, with the intention to limit the number of auto-rickshaws, enacted a policy of no new issue or sale of auto-permits issue or sale. On the one hand, the Maharashtra State Government is willing to support the drivers through an “etiquette learning” program meant to improve touristic attractiveness. Still the access to downtown Mumbai is restricted to motor rickshaws. On the other hand, Karnataka Government is looking to replace them with the popular Tata Nano cars by purchasing and renting 1 lakh (since this article will be distributed to clients globally, many won’t understand “1 lakh”, so it should be “one hundred thousand”) Nanos as city taxies in Bangalore. Delhi GovernmentDelhi’s Government also plans also to provide Economy Radio Taxis at Rs 10 per km. All this in the name of a more comfortable transport! In Mumbai, which was havinghas had the cheapest auto rickshaw fare of all big major cities in India, this one wasfares were hiked from Rs 9 (for the first 1.6 km) to Rs 11. In the capital, the minimum fare for auto-rickshaws was increased from Rs 10 for the first kilometre to Rs 19 for the first to km, practically from Rs 4.5 per km to 6.5. (I’m not understanding the math in this sentence, the fare was raised from rs 10 for the first kilometre to rs 19 for the first kilometre? Then the fare is almost doubled, right?)
The reason behind Delhi Chief Minister’s plea ofthis push for banning autos is the upcoming 2010 Commonwealth Games when India needs to look modern and civilized. It’s just that for a country to be civilized it needs to take care of its workforce and their rights.
Maybe these are a pay back for auto drivers’ rudeness (?!), but the fact is that rickshaws are the source of livelihood for many of the poor of India. (I would take out the part about auto drivers’ rudeness. While I definitely experience it every day, and I agree with you, I don’t think it adds to the article, and I think it may alienate readers that don’t feel the same way.
An auto rickshaw driver works around 10 to 12 hours per day. His average earning is about Rs 400-450 per day, out of whicheach Rs 50 is spent for fueling. If the vehicle was acquired with loan money, the driver has to pay back Rs 8.000 per month. Even if...
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