As soon as one gets near his vehicle, autorickshaw driver L. Gajendran involuntarily points to the new fare meter.
Even if the passenger is unaware of the meter, he reminds her that his meter works. At a time when many auto drivers are still refusing to switch on their meters, getting into Mr. Gajendran’s vehicle is a relief.
His adherence to the rules over the past five days has worked out well for him, with a considerable rise in profits, he says. “I take home Rs. 1,000 per day. Before I started using the meter, I used to make only Rs. 500 per day after all the expenses,” said Mr. Gajendran, after collecting a fare of Rs. 30 for a distance of 2.2 km. He covers over 200 km a day in trips.
A unit of LPG and oil, which propels the vehicle at least 20 km, costs around Rs. 60. A 20-km journey would earn him Rs. 240 as per the new meter. “I set aside Rs. 40 for maintenance of the vehicle, another Rs. 40 for empty rides and earn a profit of Rs. 100 per unit of LPG,” Mr. Gajendran says.
“Now, empty rides have reduced significantly. Earlier, more than half the distance I covered in a day was without passengers, as most of them refused to get into the auto after haggling over the fare. Now, every passenger I come across gets in, as I just point to the meter,” he says.
He expects his profits to rise even more after illegal share autos in the city are regulated, he says.