Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Diesel’s price up, Rickshaw’s fare down

Two days back, My facebook status was – for the same distance for which I would have haggled with the rickshaw-walla to pay Rs 20 instead of 25; I now haggle with the custmer to pay Rs 30.

This update may tell you about my change of perspective after becoming a rickshaw-walla but honestly speaking, the latter part is just a wish. The current scenario doesn’t leave any scope to haggle with the customer, that too for a higher fare.

In the words of my colleage, Mr Yadav from Bihar, “Har cheez ka daam badh raha hai, bas ek rikshe ka daam kam hota ja raha hai” (Prices of every damn thing is going up but only the rikshaw fare is going down). There was a lot of frustration hidden in his simple words.

I have come to terms with majority of routes in the campus in the past 5-6 days and I also have a fair idea of the optimum fare of a particular destination. For example, from the Metro station to Hndu College, Rs 20 is the standard and it's Rs 30 for Kamla Nagar. Hans Raj college is the farthest from the station and it deserves not less than Rs 30. But Rs 35 is also not too much to ask for even for a single ‘sawari’.

But today, in front of my eyes, a colleague agreed to take 3 fully grown (1.5 times my size) guys to Hansraj college for, behold,....... Rs 30. I was stupefied. I was standing right there when he was trying to negotiate with them. It was a lost cause. He virtually had no bargaining power.

The English speaking, Nike wearing, Guitar playing guys were talking utter nonsense. “Autowalla will also charge us Rs 30 and it would be very comfortable for us to sit in an Auto, so if you don’t want to go then we…”
Pure BS. But my friend couldn’t say that in their face. He couldn’t tell them, “then you better take an Auto rockstars”. Beause apart from the distance and fare calculation, a lot of other calculaions were going in his mind. After earmarking Rs 40 for the daily rent, he had to earn almost equal amount for the dinner. Saving for the family is not even in the picture yet. The day hadn’t been good thus far for him and he couldn't have afforded to lose those 30 bucks.

“Jaise jaise rikshon ki jansankhya badhti ja rahi hai, kiraya kam hota ja raha hai” ( As the number of rickshaws are rising the fare is plummeting) elucidated Mr Yadav. And in the absense of any unity of rickshaw-wallas or in the economic terms ‘Cartel’, fares have fallen flat.

At Metro station, you spot a prospective customer, approach her, talk with her, negotiate the fare with her and the deal is almost closed at Rs 30 for Kamla Nagar. Of course she tries to reduce it by Rs 5 but one rebuttal is more than enough to convince her. Only if you get the chance to rebut. The moment she says "25", one out of the dozen vying for her will blab, "come with me for Rs 25" Game over.

Next day, she comes with her boyfriend and says 20 and she still finds another blabber. The downward spiral continues. Rs 20, which was an anomaly becomes the new standard!

With such abysmally low fares its hard to imagine how these people survive. I regularly come across people who barely earn Rs 100 till the lunch time. ( I find myself regularly in that category!) It's OK for me as I don't have the responsibility of paying the room rent, educating the children, saving for the family or sending a lions share of the income back home but they have! All my colleagues are migrants and majority of them are married.

However, they are hopeful. They say that Durga Puja is around the corner. Many rickshaw-wallas will go home at that time. They will return only after a couple of months. So winters is expected to be relatively better business-wise. I just hope that their hopes materialize.


  1. Sir, usually i go to Sector 11 metro station from my home(Sec-6) driving a car and parks it over there. Yesterday as my car tyre was flat, i took a Rickshaw from my home and that rickshaw wala quoted a fare of Rs.30. . i was awestruck nd then i bargained with him sayng that bhaiya CNG hain mere gade mein, 10rs ke lagte vo bi. .then suddenly your blog came to my mind and without haggling i accepted the quoted price. . As u mentioned "Change in Perspective" can take place in a snap!!

    1. this is the best comment i've got so far. thanks a lot. I am very happy that the "change in perspective" struck u in time!
      also, u r smart too. while I had to become a rickshaw-wall for this change, u got it with just a read! bravo ! ;)