For years we have seen them in all colors and shapes moving around the city ferrying people from point A to point B emitting loads of smoke. Today these autos or rikshaws are an essential part of most Indian cities and provide that much needed gap in our transportation network. The only advantage these autos provide is service to your doorstep and at a price which is half that of a cab / taxi.
Cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and even parts of Mumbai are primarily dependent on these autos who charge anywhere from Rs 7 to Rs 10 per kms. But they seldom stick to this pricing and try to fleese their customers at every given opportunity. If you look like an outsider and new to the city, then u’r definitely taken for a ride. So sometimes other options like Government Bus Service or shared cabs could work out as better alternatives.
We have tried to put down a few pointers that could help you get thru this ordeal while travelin on a budget in India.
Before you get to a particular city, collect enough information about the local transport facilities and approximate rates. For Ex: Bangalore city has a reliable Non A/c and Airconditioned Bus service which are quite effecient and connect all corners of the city. Quite a few techies in the city have abandoned their bikes and cars to ride on these aircon volvo buses to their workplace. You can also choose City Taxi service which need about 20mins of advanced notice. The best among them is Meru Cabs which is reliable and charge Rs 15 per km. But if you must take an auto, be well prepared with the destination and key landmarks. Bangalore autos are required to run by the meter but these guys sometimes avoid using them, tend to take a longer routes and act dumb. So make sure they turn on the meter when u get on.
Mumbai on the otherhand has more options – Their local trains are the most reliable mode of transport but could be quite taxing esp during peak hours due to the enormous crowds who choose to travel on them. So stay away during peak hours and beware of pick pocketers. Alternatively, you can choose their local taxis in most parts of the city and Autos in the suberbs. They are not fussy and will rarely try to cheat you.
Cities like Chennai and Hyderabad are the worst when it comes to Autorikshaw’s. Always make sure that you bargain on the fare before you get on. This way, they will not try to take a longer route and get you to your destination on time.
Learning certain key local words will also help you when u’r out on the streets. Stuff like ‘How Much’, ‘I want to go to __’, ‘Good Morning’, ‘Good Evening’, ‘Thank you’ are most commonly used words while on the road. Alernatively, you can always ask the locals for directions and help. India is still one of the most hospitable countries so don’t feel shy to ask.