Such refreshing change may be partly due to a raise in fare by the authorities. More than this, we have had a spurt in community groups - such as Namma Auto, Auto Raja and Book My Call Auto - that are engaged in mobilizing auto-drivers, to adopt decent behaviour and fair practices. Anubhav Agarwal, a computer professional, teaming up with sociologist Aishwarya Raman, to create the special interest group - Auto Raja - says over 200 auto drivers have signed up with their group.
They represent just a drop in the bucket, taking into account the thousands of Chennai autorickshaws, over 70 percent of which are not owner-driven. Anubhav concedes that their work and mission can't be expected appeal to a majority of drivers, who hire vehicles, paying hefty retainer to benami vehicle owners.
The challenge faced by special interest groups such as AutoRaja is in mobilizing a critical mass of Chennai auto drivers for adopting fair practices. As for fare-paying passengers, the challenge is in sighting a metered autorickshaw. The Times of India reported seeing an auto-driver displaying the official rate card on his wind shield. Another vehicle, the newspaper said, had a 'No Bargain' sticker, citing officially prescribed rates.