Guwahati witnesses distinct revival of Auto Rickshaw Services
GUWAHATI: Owing to the deteriorating service provided by private cab companies operating in the city, the rickshaws and auto rickshaws are beginning to witness a revival in Guwahati.
“Private cabs have taken up a large part of the market share. Our business was drastically affected initially when these cabs had just started plying. But now, due to the cabs charging surge prices and not providing the services they had initially promised, people have again started to choose autos over cabs,” said Sanwar Hussain, an autorickshaw driver from Guwahati who has been earning a living out of driving autos for over 12 years now.
Hussain isn’t alone. Several other drivers that G Plus spoke to across the city expressed a similar view.
Known as one of the most common forms of urban transport, motorized rickshaws came to Guwahati in 1969. Today, a total of over 9,000 auto rickshaws ply in Guwahati, charging a base fare of Rs 40 for up to 2 kms and Rs 20 for each subsequent km.
For a distance of 1 km from ABC bus stop to post office, auto rickshaw charges range somewhere around Rs 40-50 while an Ola ride charges approximately Rs 80 from the passengers.
“With 14 years’ experience of being an auto rickshaw driver, I can say that our services are by far the best in the city. Till date, autos continue to be a safe mode of commute and it’s only during offers that passengers choose to travel by cabs,” expressed Rupam Kalita, general secretary of Guwahati Auto rickshaw Owners’ Association (GAOA).
He further informed G Plus that the association had mulled plans to launch its own app-based service to provide cheaper rates and more benefits to the passengers. Upon learning that it would cost them around Rs 30 lakhs to launch the same, the association had requested the government to provide assistance. However, the government has been uncooperative, said Kalita.
When Ola, Uber and other similar cab service firms made an entry into the market, they provided the passengers with heavy discounts on rides, probably to lure them. However, over time, they have almost done away with offers and discounts and now charge hefty amounts on rides along with waiting charges making auto rides a cheaper option.
E-rickshaws that have recently started to ply in various parts of the city including Hatigaon, Bora Service, Lal Ganesh, Panjabari and Lokhra have also gradually made their mark in the market. These e-rickshaws, popularly known as ‘tuk-tuk’ or ‘tom-tom’ all have a defined route for which they charge a fixed amount of Rs 10 per passenger.
An overall increase in the number of choices available to commuters in Guwahati clubbed with the app-based cab services' attempt to make more money through surge pricing is driving customers away, auto drivers said.
Additionally, citizens have complained of harrowing experiences with the drivers of private cabs and the inaction on part of their operators.
“I take cabs on a daily basis for travelling to and from office. While it has been a mixed experience, I have been facing a lot of harassing incidents with cab drivers recently. One such incident was when I had booked a cab from my office in Dr B Baruah road. While the app showed the cab’s location to be merely one minute away, the driver refused to come. After three subsequent rides getting cancelled due to various reasons, I had to finally take an auto,” expressed Rikhiya Chakraborty, speaking to G Plus.
It’s been over two years that app-based cab services like Ola and Uber started services in Guwahati. But today, many citizens opine that the cab services have deteriorated tremendously. This is another reason why commuters have started preferring rickshaws, auto rickshaws and e-rickshaw over private cabs.