The story is about cab drivers cheating their uninformed passengers. They switch to out of city rates much before they reach the city limits. This prompted me to write about auto-rickshaw rates in two cities in India. One is the IT hub India, Bangalore. The second is my native town Thrissur, also known as the ‘cultural capital’ of Kerala.
Let me tell you that the people here are very honest. They don’t cheat you at all. Instead they tell you the truth. Here are some examples.
Till few years back Bangalore autos used to have mechanical meters. It was easy to screw these contraptions by changing the gear ratios. More over, there were meters where the meter was self powered and it will keep ticking at constant rates. But, then suddenly government mandated digital meters. After that, the people who got new digital meters did never cheat anyone. They were always very sincere. Some examples of their highly sincere dialogues are,
1. "Saar, new meter, now we can’t do anything with it. Twenty rupees extra" (This has almost faded away nowadays)
2. "Meter double"
3. "G M Palaya? 150 rupees" (Slightly far away places where he will have to drive a km or so to get next drive. Actual rate will be 80-90)
4. "Night 10 ‘o’ clock till morning 7.30 one and half saar"
10PM to 6AM its 1.5 times the meter charge. However they start this from 9-9.30 PM. If you catch an auto before 10PM and reach the destination after 10PM, you still have to pay 1.5 times the charge. However, if you catch an auto before 6AM and you reach your destination after 6AM, he will still want you to pay 1.5 or even more. If you are new to Bangalore and has reached a place like Madivala by bus in the early morning, then you will get to hear that till 7.30AM the charge is 1.5 times the meter charge. You will also hear rates like Rs. 300 for distances slightly over 10KM — The actual rate is Rs. 7 per KM–
Here also, auto guys are so nice that they never cheat you. Instead they confuse you. And, are they responsible for that? No. The authorities are the real culprits.
1. There are two kind of autos in Thrissur. One for city limits and other for out of city
2. There are two different charges. One for city limits and another for out side city
3. It is very difficult to find which auto is for city and which is not. If you get into one and ask him to take you to some place, he will happily take you there. Only after reaching there you will notice that you now have to pay 1.5 times because you asked the auto driver to go out of his home area (Like, getting into a village auto and asking him to take you to town)
4. To make things more complicated, authorities have not defined the city limits properly
Allow me to conclude by adding a note on autos in Kottayam. My wife is a PG student in Kottayam medical college. From Kottayam town (city bus/railway station) to the medical college, the rate for auto is fixed. It is 100 rupees. No cheating, just fixed rate. But, if I calculate the rate using Rs. 7 per KM, this charge is more than twice the actual charge. Now, Kottayam medical college is a government medical college and a referral hospital. This simply means, it is mostly visited by the poor people who have some or other serious illness. No mercy shown towards them. You may be poor, you may be going to die. But, pay us Rs. 100 first and then you can get your treatment.