Passengers will be picked up from doorstep for just Rs. 10 above meter fare

Starting Thursday, city residents will be able to hail an autorickshaw with their mobile phones.

By simply sending a text message, passengers will now be picked up from their doorsteps, at an additional cost of just Rs. 10 above the meter fare. The service will be available 24x7.

Nearly 1,000 autorickshaws belonging to the All-India Trade Union Congress and other unions will be part of the ‘SMS an auto’ service.

Those who wish to avail the service can send an SMS to 9944733111, with the pincode of their locality and the name of the area they wish to travel to. “For example, if you are in Anna Salai and wish to travel to T. Nagar, your SMS should read ‘600002 space T. Nagar’.

Within 15 seconds, the commuter will get an SMS with the contact numbers of autorickshaw drivers in the locality.

“The commuter can then call the driver directly. After reaching her/his destination, the passenger can pay as per meter and give an additional Rs. 10 as service charge,” he says.

Passengers will not have to bargain with the drivers or wait for an autorickshaw in the sun,” says K. Navaneethan, a technology partner for the SMS facility.

The autorickshaw driver too will have to send an SMS to indicate his availability. “All the drivers are verified by us,” says Mr. Navaneethan.

The facility will also ensure autorickshaws do not ply empty.

“After dropping off a passenger, the driver needs to message us a particular code, so we know his location. His contact number will then be given to other commuters in the area,” says J. Seshasayanam, secretary of Madras Metro Auto Drivers’ Association, affiliated to AITUC.

Though commuters are happy, they are unsure about how well the service will function.

“It is helpful for senior citizens, of course. But the number of autorickshaws engaged in the service does not seem like much,” says M. Seshadri, a resident of Adyar.

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