In 1995, Tamil flick Baasha immortalised superstar Rajinikanth in the role of an honest and helpful autorickshaw driver and a song sung by his character extolled the virtues of his profession. For residents of Chennai today, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Notorious for fleecing passengers, driving rashly and using abusive language, autorickshaw drivers in the city are a hated lot. Exceptions are few and far between. In a novel initiative, Chennai Live 104.8 FM, in association with Chennai Traffic Police, has decided to conduct a campaign to hunt for the best autorickshaw driver in the city. Their aim is to encourage autorickshaw drivers to undergo a change in attitude and make travelling in the three-wheelers a pleasant experience for commuters.
Posters related to campaign ‘Mr. Auto' were stuck on autorickshaws in the city today. Commuters are required to rate autorickshaw drivers on their behaviour, fare demand and driving, and send a text message by typing good/bad <space> autorickshaw number to 9220092200. The auto driver with the most number of ‘good' votes will win the title of Mr. Auto 2012 and get a cash prize of Rs. 25,000. Two runners up will win Rs. 15,000 and Rs. 10,000 each. The campaign ends on May 10. “Since the launch of the campaign on March 20, we have received close to 4,000 text messages. It provides residents of Chennai an opportunity to be agents of change and help make Chennai a better place,” said Prem Kumar, Chief Operating Officer, Chennai Live 104.8.
There are over 65,000 autorickshaws and 10,000 share autorickshaws plying on city roads. “The campaign is an attempt to sensitise auto drivers on safe driving and in turn provide a better service to people,” said Sanjay Arora, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic).
The Hindu in the media partner for the campaign.