How To Negotiate a Taxi and Auto- Rickshaw Fares in India

Written by Rohit Agarwal

Taxi and Auto-Rickshaw (often shortened to just "auto") is the most popular mode of transport in getting around the city, especially for tourists. You must exercise caution and keep informed before you hire any of these modes of transport. The drivers often quote unreasonably high prices to foreign travellers or simply include unnecessary extras making travel rather inconvenient. To save yourself from these problems, you need to be careful about certain things. Here are some of the tips to help you...
Auto Rickshaw : Photo Credit - Terry Whalebone - CC by 2.0
Your first time:
  1. You need to hire a taxi or an auto from the airport that will take you to the hotel. It is at the airport and in major tourist spots that you can find prepaid taxi or auto counters.
  2. At these counters, you can pay in advance for your destination and wait in the queue for the next available taxi or auto. These counters have fixed fare charts for your reference and you need not pay the driver any extra penny.
  3. If you wish to have a brief stop on your way to your hotel, it is better to discuss and arrange with the driver and the counter representative so that no extras will be charged to you.
  4. Do not be startled if you get surrounded by drivers asking or at times forcing you to hire their cars. Simply reject them by saying a polite and firm NO or negotiate the rates. Always be sure to ask the driver about prices before jumping on their vehicle. The fare for a taxi should not exceed Rs.600. If you feel the driver is asking too much, do not hesitate to move to the next cab.
  5. You could also hire radio cabs online such as Meru cabs/Ola cabs. In case they fail to deliver the service, have a backup ready.
Getting around:
  1. If you are hiring an auto or taxi to go around, ask about the meter. It is a law that each of these vehicles must have a meter to measure the distance travelled and calculate the appropriate fare.
  2. Many auto/taxi drivers will say that their meter is down or not working. If that is the case, you need to negotiate for a fixed rate beforehand.
  3. For an auto, if the meter seems outdated, ask the driver if he has the rate conversion card issued by the government and use it to calculate the appropriate rate. Pay in accordance with the meter or the rate conversion card to avoid problems later.
  4. For an auto, the fare should not exceed Rs.150 unless you need to go really, really far.
  5. For a taxi, the fare depends on the car you hire.  On average, the fare for a taxi is around RS.10/kilometre. This taxi is hired on an average of 6-8 hours with the total approximate fare between Rs.1000 and Rs.1500 per day. Charges for driver are extra and fixed at Rs.200 per day. The fare includes the petrol/diesel cost so you don't have to pay for fuelling. In most cases, you will also be paying between Rs.25 and Rs.50 for the toll tax.
  6. To get around the city for the whole day, you need to agree beforehand on how much they charge for waiting time.
  7. For taxis, you will be charged extra on a per hour basis beyond 10 P.M. or 11:00 P.M.
  8. It is recommended not to hire a taxi from the hotel because they charge higher and not easy to negotiate compared to the regular cabs.
  9. Know the approximate distance so that you will not be over-charged. Check the distance information from google maps.
  10. Negotiating with the taxi varies from city to city, but it is the last thing that you have to worry about as you will learn about this as you go along.
  11. An interesting app has been launched in India if you want to hire an auto. The app is known as Pooch-O which is currently available on Android. It provides information about the driver, the distance of your destination and estimated fare. It will let you hire an auto and send you the driver's contact number so that you can speak directly with the driver. It will also let you share this information on twitter and facebook to ensure your safety. The app will let you track the auto via GPS.
Safety Tips:
Whenever you hire an auto-rickshaw or a taxi, note down the driver's name, contact number, plate number and other important information. Also, ask if GPS is available and check if it is turned on. Send this information to someone you know, just in case.

Author Bio:
Rohit is an explorer and a writer at heart. He has travelled around India and other countries. Rohit believes that acquiring the right information is the key to sustaining within the city even for a short period of time. He also blogs at Trans India Travels. Have a look!

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