Sometime back, I had visitors from US. I took my 9-year-old American guest for ride in an auto-rickshaw. When she returned she was thrilled at having traveled in a vehicle that had no doors and you didn’t even have the restrictions of wearing a seat belt.
How cool is that?
Children who live abroad are always amused by these dangerous (and adventurous) rides of travelling in an auto at a break-neck speed, jumping over the potholes with a hard bump, ignoring the traffic lights and squeezing through the heavy traffic. These are called the 'fun rides' by our visitors, the stories that they would take back home
There are some areas in Mumbai, where it is difficult to find an auto-rickshaw. Sometimes I have wasted more than 20 minutes, waiting, and then decided to walk or take a bus because of unavailability of getting an auto. Taxis in suburbs will not ply short distance travelers and this creates lots of inconvenience for commuters. There are times when the drivers refuse to go to certain areas. I have observed many times that many auto rickshaws refuse to go to the eastern suburbs/ on hilly locations/or in the areas where they are not likely to find any client on their return journey.
And then, there are times when the auto-rickshaw driver is just not in mood.
Therefore I was relieved when I read about this auto-rickshaw service in DNA that yelled “Dial-an-auto service kicks off today in Mumbai”
I called city’s first dial-a-rickshaw service at 022-25747474 to get more information.
Me: Can I book the auto for the whole day?
PR: Yes of course. All you have to do is to call me one hour before your journey and book an auto.
Me: Is there a lump sum amount I have to pay for the whole day?
PR: No! You pay by meter; we will charge you only Rs20 for the booking service.
Me: Will the driver wait as long as I want him to, till I finish my work, say about 15 minutes?
PR: Yes of course, his meter is running and you can make him wait any where, as long as you want, if you wish to finish your work.
Now this is good news, because many-a-times I have to leave the auto because the driver refuses to wait for 5 minutes and later, I get stranded in lonely lanes, looking for another auto.
The auto service has just begun with only 300 autos registered under its wing. The drivers are provided with an identity card. The nearest driver in the area is informed by SMS and the first driver to respond is given the confirmation email with passenger’s phone number, address and travel details. The commuter is the given the details of the drivers, his telephone number and license plate.
This service is similar to Meru service, although I cannot vouch for Meru’s taxi service.
I am hoping that this auto-rickshaw service will deliver the comfort that it promises to…we shall wait and watch…..