Freedom of fare​

Price control

Legally and traditionally, fare for autorickshaws and taxis is fixed by the government in major cities. It is a kind of “price control” that the government practices on a totally private sector, ostensibly to promote a competitive environment and safeguard the interests of passengers.

Nothing could be more hypocritical of the government. Passengers are consumers who need as much or as little protection as the consumers of any other goods and services. Every reasoning given by the government in favour of price control on this count fails to hold much water. The practice of “negotiated fare” between the driver and passengers as opposed to the government-mandated-fare is the norm rather than the exception.

For every other product, it is the seller who decides the price. But auto and taxi drivers are treated differently. Why?

As for as competitive environment is concerned, it is a function and the responsibility of market forces.

Worldwide phenomenon

Price control is practised worldwide for as long as one can remember. This tradition must go and India should take the lead in the abolition of price control in autorickshaws and taxis.

Managing initial chaos

We are not unmindful of initial chaos that free-for-all fare regime may cause. Both passengers and drivers may be exploited. There may be instances of very high fare when one needs a ride most.

Such issues can be tackled by the unions or cooperatives of drivers such as Chaalak Shakti, or lightly regulated aggregators such as Ola, Uber and Rapido. True competition will emerge automatically and ensure a fair deal for all stakeholders.

Drivers who wish to ply individually free from aggregation of any form may be given upto three slabs to choose from at any given point in time. The slabs themselves can be decided by the government in consultation with the unions.

Wonders of technology

Free fare can be implemented and its efficacy monitored through the use of technology and GPS devices already installed in the vehicles. A passenger using the mobile device to hail a ride or resorting to street-hail will easily know what deal he is getting for what vehicle.

Wonders of a free market combined with technology!