These three-wheel drive vehicles are popular means of travel in Bangalore and are incredibly inexpensive. They accommodate up to three passengers, with the driver in front and a little luggage space behind. The auto-rickshaws are open from two sides (no doors) and are ‘naturally’ air-conditioned (provided you’re not stuck in traffic).
Autos, as they are known, are usually found clustered near bus stands, as well as on most busy roads. It is quite easy to flag down an auto on a main road between 7am and 10pm, although some autos may not take you, depending on your destination. Autos generally come fitted with a fare meter; the newer ones are electronic. The minimum charge is Rs 17 for the first two kilometres, and then Rs 9 for each additional kilometre. There is a 50% surcharge after 10 PM, which is manually calculated (the metre doesn’t account for this). Some drivers may demand 100% surcharge after 10 PM or 11 PM and often ‘meter and a half’ for drives through congested areas. Bargaining becomes an art with some auto rickshaw drivers, so you may have to play along. Sometimes heavy luggage will also incur an additional fare, usually around Rs 10 per piece.
If you can plan your journey in advance, an easy and efficient way of booking an auto is online at http://www.easyauto.in or by calling 98441 12233.
Some auto drivers may try and cheat you if they know you are not from Bangalore. It’s best if you know the approximate fare or distance (# km x Rs 7) before entering into a negotiation so that you have a ballpark idea of a fair price. For any complaints against the auto driver, you can file with the police, however, this rarely leads to any sort of resolution.
You do not need to tip the driver, so just rounding off the fare will be appreciated. However, since fares barely cover the cost of petrol, it’s kind to offer a Rs 10 tip to honest drivers.
Carpooling is also another phenomenon that is catching on in the city. Until you buy your own car, you can register on the website http://www.commuteeasy.com to search for others who take your route to the office, and team up. Just key in the travel details, and the site will generate results instantly.