When drastic geographic and political changes were taking place in the Middle East, a small city in India was on its way to a small financial change. The price of an auto ride from Sector 56 to Sikanderpur metro station shot up, the fare doubled overnight. Earlier, one was able to cover the 7.7 km stretch at Rs 5/- but now have to pay Rs 10/-. The change may sound undersized but a hike of double the amount is worth looking into.
Once upon a time:
Those who are unaware of the geographic location of Gurgaon, sector 56 of Gurgaon is connected to Sikanderpur Metro station by a 7.7 km stretch known as the DLF Golf Course road. There are two modes of public transport; a public auto – I came up with this term because there are two types of auto – a private auto and a public auto. The small green and yellow private auto charge anywhere between Rs 80 to Rs 150; depends on how lucky you are while bargaining.
The public auto used to charge Rs 5 for a one way trip and so did the local bus. Those who have to travel every day prefer a public transport, either a bus or a public auto.
On a cold January night!
It was last week of January, during the silent chilly winters when the bomb was dropped; the fare increased two fold from Rs 5/- to Rs 10/-, the impact was felt on the pockets of daily commuters.
Who are these daily commuters?
The people who got affected are the daily commuters, which includes people from the upper middle class, lower middle class and lower class. It is a mix of employees working at the multinational companies to workers working at the construction sites.
On an average an auto during its one way trip from Sector 56 to Sikanderpur metro station carry four people, while on the journey back the autowallas wait till every seat in the auto has been occupied, pushing the count thirteen.
Let us assume that an auto starts its routine from 7 am in the morning till 8 pm. In a span of 13 hours, it takes anywhere between 20 min to 30 min depending on the traffic to get from one place to another. On an average an auto would make 11 round trips considering lunch breaks and waiting period and would take 204 passengers on the ride of their life.
So clearly increasing the fare from Rs 5/- to Rs 10/- is profitable. But things are not as easy as they seem as we haven’t factored a lot of things. Let’s have a look at them one by one.
When the rate was Rs 5/-, everybody took the ride as this was the cheapest mode of transport, unless you are hitchhiking. But when the price shot up to Rs 10/-, some preferred going by the bus as the fare was still Rs 5/-. The autos now have to wait much longer to fill it to capacity, hence lesser trips than projected.
Some said No:
As discussed in the previous paragraph, people working at construction sites, as domestic help or who cannot afford to pay double the amount opt out of their usual auto ride. They preferred bus over auto.
We have to consider the altercations that takes place between the customers and the auto driver when customers refuse to pay double the usual fare, as the payment is to be made at the end of the journey, such cases are plenty.
Rs 10/- for a journey from sector 56 to Sikanderpur may sound reasonable but sometimes people do not go all the way, sometimes they get on and get down somewhere in between the 7.7 km stretch, it is during these short trips, altercations are affluent.
The impact of the price change on the people:
The middle class: People falling under this bracket were not affected by the price change. It gave them more space in the auto at least during one way of the journey.
India is a crowded place with millions of people using daily transport, shoulder to shoulder we stand, and shoulder to shoulder we travel, but with the price hike the middle class do not have to deal with the poor anymore as the two are always at the loggerheads.
This price did take a serious blow on people for whom every rupee counts.
Impact on other modes of transport:
The bus services saw a surge in their intake as people who earlier took an auto instead of a bus (the frequency of autos is higher than bus), now opted for bus services. The over flooded bus reminds me of the picture where Mountain blue birds carry a whale whenever the social networking site twitter goes over capacity. Due to the overcapacity, bus takes double the time it used to take. With the present hike, the bus services are certainly not at loss here.
But there has been a transition of people from bus to auto, people who couldn’t stand the slow speed and crowd, they are better off paying the extra Rs 5/-
How much it actually costs:
An average person works for 24 days in a month, he goes to office in the morning and comes back late in the evening, for his one way trip everyday for the whole month he has to pay Rs 240/- more. Is it that big a deal, for many it is!
Was it the right decision?
Financially yes, in my point of view the decision has been right. The hike in prices from Rs 5/- to Rs 10/- has been a good move economically for the both the auto drivers and the bus services.
Will the balance be restored? It is a question on everybody’s mind. Will there be a price hike in bus services. Till now there are just two transport facilities available, buses and auto, metro is still not in the picture for another 4 years or so. A price hike in bus services would restore the imbalance of crowd , this would be a win-win situation for the autowallas as they would get their customers back, but people will have to pay the price unless they can learn how to fly, get good jobs (so they don’t have to worry about the money) or walk 7.7 km.