Call 011-64444441 for G-Auto service. If it takes off, commuters all over Delhi would be able to travel by autorickshaws without haggling or getting fleeced
Delhiites are familiar with dial-a-cab service. Now they can even book auto-rickshaws online. An Ahmedabad-based group, Nirmal Foundation, has launched its commuter-friendly service, “G Auto”, in the national capital after its successful run in a few cities in Gujarat.
People familiar with Delhi's public transport know how unpleasant hailing an autorickshaw can be. Many drivers speed off at the very mention of the place one wants to reach. When an “auto-wallah” finally agrees to take a passenger, he steadfastly refuses to run by the meter, forcing one to haggle over the fare demanded. People finally reach their destination harried and frazzled by the experience.
Keeping this in mind and to provide a safe and reliable para-transit service, the East Delhi Municipal Corporation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Nirmal Foundation in September 2013. The G-Auto service was launched at the civic body's headquarters at Patparganj by east Delhi mayor, Ram Narayan Dubey on February 15. Residents of Delhi can call autorickshaws to their doorstep through a tele-booking service on the lines of radio taxis.
The service in Delhi starts with a fleet of 125 autorickshaws.
“Autorickshaw has always been a very unreliable service in the city and both the users and the rickshaw owners go through an ugly experience in day to day life. We want to revamp the picture of autorickshaw travel from an unreliable option to a passenger-friendly and pleasant mode of transport,” says Nirmal Kumar, an IIM-Ahmedabad graduate, who is brain behind G-Auto.
G-Auto is the first and largest organised fleet of autorickshaw service of India that provides 24X7 auto-on-call. It is a concept wherein autorickshaw drivers are organised under the social umbrella brand, G-Auto. It comprises more than 10,000 autorickshaws across Ahmedabad, Gandhinagar, Surat and Rajkot, and is expected to grow to at least 50,000 by 2015.
Kumar says the service would make it possible to call an autorickshaw to one's doorstep any time of day or night at government notified meter-based fares. “We are trying to solve the problems of 'refusal, accessibility, transparency and safety' for autorickshaw users. On the other hand, our focus is also to provide 'suraksha, samridhhi and samman' (safety, prosperity and dignity)—the 3Ss of G-Auto—to autorickshaw drivers and their families,” says Kumar. He adds that the vehicles, which are already fitted with GPS by the transport department of Delhi, will form part of a central database at a call centre, making it easy to track the vehicles. “Once it starts, we are expecting more autorickshaw drivers to come forward and register.” The GPS data in autorickshaws is monitored by Delhi-Integrated Multi-modal Transit System (DIMTS), so Nirmal foundation and East MCD has to still take permission from transport department to monitor the data themselves.
G-Autos will follow the government rate chart and charge an additional Rs 15 for service charges. At present, a control room has been set up in East MCD. The service is essentially for Delhi residents and then rest of the NCR will be catered to," says the East Delhi Mayor.
Passengers can avail G-Auto service at call centre number 011- 6444-4441 or they can book it online at www.g-auto.org or through free mobile applications. The call goes to the centre and from there the message is sent to drivers in that specific areas, one who responds the first, gets the customer. The passenger gets G-Pilot's mobile number, name and vehicle number details within few minutes of booking. At present, the service is available from 6:00 AM to 12:00 night; as the service expands it will be available 24 hours.
Deal for autorickshaw drivers
G-autorickshaws will not only provide passengers a ride to their destination but also provide them with newspapers, magazines, a mobile telephone booth, helpline numbers and a dustbin. Autorickshaw drivers have to pay Rs 250 to get registered with the service. They are given two sets of uniforms, and an insurance cover of Rs 1,00,000 and medical cover of Rs 25,000. They are also being given hospitality training, which includes ability to speak 50 basic sentences in English.
G-Auto creates revenue through two models:
Delhi has more than 90,000 autorickshaws and if this service catches on, it will significantly improve autorickshaw service in the city by removing the gap between the user and driver. The few drivers registered with G-Auto say they they will now have an organisation that will listen to their problems related to misbehaviour and harassment by traffic police. “Traffic police stop auto drivers at will and find an excuse to challan them retrospectively,” says Phool Chand, an autorickshaw driver. The officer asks for all documents and if all are in place, then challan is issued for wrong uniform, incorrect lettering on number plate or illegal stopping, adds Chand.
Nirmal Foundation and East MCD have promised that as the service expands they would look at providing autorickshaw stands and increase the call centres, zone-wise.
Auto-rickshaws are efficient, more affordable compared to taxis, environment-friendly (they run on CNG) and can move people quickly, flexibly and safely in Indian cities. These high-frequency, low-occupancy vehicles can effectively cut dependence on personal vehicles for short distance travel. They are an icon of Delhi and a great hit with tourists, too. Unfortunately, cities have not given due recognition to these vehicles in their mainstream transport planning. This is leading to increased conflicts with formal public transport services like buses. The whole autorickshaw sector needs a big reform, and Nirmal Foundation could well prove the key in organising the sector well.
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