Ilost hope in autorickshaws long before I lost hope in my ability (or lack of it) to cook. I had to pay Rs. 40 once for a ride from the Light House to the Gandhi Statue, which is hardly a distance, and realised that taking an auto wasn’t worth the money or the time and energy spent haggling. Recently, though, after the meters were asked to be calibrated, I was curious to know how things had changed.

A friend, who regularly takes an auto from home to work (barely 500 metres away), was asked to pay Rs. 30 (Rs. 5 more than the minimum amount for 1.8 km) a couple of days back. My sister-in-law, too, slashed any hopes I had fostered. She said, “I commute to my workplace at Teynampet from Nungambakkam everyday. The distance is around 4 km and I pay Rs.100 whereas the amount should be only Rs. 40 to Rs. 50.” According to her meters in Chennai are a lost cause. A family friend, a chartered accountant, had a similar experience. He had taken an auto with a meter but was asked to pay extra over and above the fare as it was still cheaper than what he would have paid earlier.

Disheartened, I turned to Twitter, where, thankfully, I did find some success stories. Aarti Krishnakumar (@aaroo4) has been taking metered autos to work the last two days. “It has been such a breeze, and my wallet is smiling as well. I usually commute from T. Nagar to Tiruvanmiyur and it used to cost me Rs. 250, but thanks to the meter I have been paying only Rs. 120 and have managed to save a few hundreds in just three days. The auto-drivers have not haggled or hassled me. In fact, it only cost me Rs. 41 for a trip from T. Nagar to Park Sheraton and when I gave him Rs. 50, the auto driver gave me Rs.10 back and waived the Re.1 change,” she says. Amba (@MumbaiCentral) had also tweeted saying “First metered auto today, driver convinced me that it would be more expensive than my usual negotiated fare. Turned out 10 bucks cheaper.”

ANUSHA PARTHASARATHY

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