Friday, March 19, 2010

Why the Autorickshaws?

The Delhi Chief Minister this week made a statement saying that the city is infested with autorickshaws and they should be banned (see guardian on March 18th, 2010).


They actually mean less harm than the others.

I do not own a car and use the three wheelers, bus, or rent a car, depending on how many meetings I have and the accessibility of transport at various locations. Yes, the autorickshaw drivers can be annoying and at times, hard to bargain with. Nevertheless, once in the routine and have an idea of the distances and prices, one learns to bargains.

Having said that, banning three wheelers is not a good idea. I am not talking from the perspective of the drivers and their incomes, but from the mobility perspective. In general, the public transport runs at ~50 percent of the required capacity, that too an old fleet, which is still waiting for the new buses. Yes, the three wheelers move slower than the passenger cars. But, they move people as much as the cars. The three-wheelers carry ~8-10 percent of the daily passengers, short and long trips, across the city (see passenger statistics). Compare this to ~15 percent by passenger cars, from over 1 million cars. Without providing an adequate alternative, like doubling of the public transport system, this is a sorry move.

Even after the metro comes operational, the role of three wheelers will garner a more prominent role in shuttling passengers between stations to the residential and commercial neighborhoods. For example, take a look at the two wheeler service in Bangkok at the sky train stations. Even, in Mumbai, the concept of the shared taxis at the subway stations. An effective service for the public, short trips, and good income.

In general, in the city of Delhi, the share passenger trips by bus is ~25 percent and the non-motorized transport is ~35 percent. If the city is worried about the mobility of the people on road, they should target to improve the larger share holders like buses, walking, and cycling, than going after the three wheelers, which are very handy in case short trips.

Photograph by Mr. Christian Krelling

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1 comment:

Vikrant said...

Absolutely right Sarath, In cities like Mumbai, the autos charge you exactly as per the meter ( 1 Re less actually and I don't know why?). Autos provide quick alternate solutions in case of an emergency.