In India the public transport is the lifeline of the population. The government run trains and buses transport millions of people everyday. It is cheaper, faster and convenient.
However not all areas are well connected to the train stations or bus stops. Many a times you need an intermediate public transport to get you either to your destination or at least to the public transport. In Delhi there are 3.4 rickshaws per 1000 of the population, in Kolkata there are 5.6 rickshaws for every 1000 of the population.
The intermediate public transport (IPT) are of various kinds in the different states of India. There are taxis, auto-rickshaws, human-propelled rickshaws, animal drawn rickshaws, motorbikes etc.
Taxis – These are metered cabs called popularly as taxis. Taxis used petrol in the past but have now graduated to using Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) which is fuel efficient and Eco-friendly. You can now choose from an air-conditioned taxi, pre-booked one or share-a-taxi.
Auto-rickshaw – This is cheaper than taxis but has a capacity of only 3 people. Some places also have share-an-auto option. These too now use CNG. These are metered and have a standard rate card in cities like Mumbai, while in others the rate is negotiated before the passenger hires the auto.
Human-rickshaw – With a huge population, labor is very cheap in India. It is propelled by a human, where the runner draws a two-wheeled cart which seats one or two persons. No fuel is used.
Animal drawn rickshaw – Though its no more used due to animal protection rights, it is the only form of transport in remote areas and small villages even today.
Motorbikes – In some states and small towns motorbikes are used as an intermediate public transport. The motorbike rider is called ‘Pilot’ in some places like Goa. This is a means of livelihood for people who can’t afford to buy or lease a taxi or rickshaw.
Role of the IPT :
Point-to-point transport – The intermediate public transport acts as a support system for the public transport network in the country. The IPT provides door step delivery and hence is more convenient.
Faster – The public transport follows a predetermined route and schedule. The IPT can be hailed any time and can even maneuver through traffic better.
Easy accessibility – The taxis and rickshaws ply on the road from early morning to late night. Hence it is very easy to hire any of these. They are easy available and in some cities there are areas designated as taxi and rickshaw ‘stands’.
No Parking hassles – Using an IPT saves one the hassle of finding a place for car park and even saves y the money required to pay for it.
Means of Livelihood – Its a means of livelihood for millions of people in India. These taxis, rickshaws are either bought or leased. In some cities the driver operates the vehicle owned by someone else and pays a part of the earnings to the owner. A driver earns an average of Rs.250-Rs. 300 which is approximately $5-$6,working 10-12 hours a day.
Conservation of Resources– Using share-a-auto or share-a-cab helps in lesser use of fuel and lesser gas emissions. The use of CNG has added to these benefits. Besides it also reduces the cost of travel for the passengers.
Areas for Improvement:
Organized sector– The taxis and rickshaws remain largely unorganized. However in some cities there are taxi and rickshaw unions but they don’t really receive any benefits in terms of protection from hike in CNG prices, minimum wage rule, labor law protection etc.
Pollution control – Government has made CNG mandatory to control pollution in the metros. However in smaller towns and cities of India there still exist no strict rules laid down by the government to check pollution. As these vehicles are mostly leased the driver does not take the responsibility of servicing the vehicle. Besides the earnings are not large enough for the owner drivers to invest in the maintenance of the vehicle. And most importantly the vehicles are very old.
Improved service – The IPT drivers take passengers depending on their whims and fancy. In special situations like a heavy rain refusing to stop or charging more than the standard fare is very common. Besides many cities there is no standard or even metered fare. There are efforts being made and one of the many notable organizations is Nyayabhoomi which has taken up these issues.
Alternative fueled vehicles – As fuel is getting expensive the IPT is becoming expensive too, both for the driver and the passenger. Hence the need for alternatives like electric rickshaws, battery run vehicles, solar powered taxis have to be explored.
P R Fouracre and D A C Maunder, A Review of Intermediate Public Transport in Third World Cities, Dept. for International Development.
Geetam Tiwari,Urban Transport In Indian Cities, TRIPP Chair Associate Professor for Transport Planning, IIT,Delhi .