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Hi-tech autos for India's capital


09 November 2009

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A new range of eco-friendly autorickshaws with cutting-edge technologies will be introduced in India’s national capital, coinciding with the Commonwealth Games. They will be equipped with GPS devices, safe payment options via prepaid cards and advertisement space for boosting drivers’ income.

They emit lesser smoke but synonymous with nuisance on road, considered pocket-friendly for lesser fares than taxis yet have the reputation for mugging the customers, manoeuvre easily amid heavy traffic yet uncomfortable for the passengers.

prepaid.jpg
Image credits: Mid Day/ Representational photos of the new modular autos with advertising space

Delhi's autos have a very strong reputation to beat. However, an NGO and a financial firm have taken it upon themselves to change the three-wheelers for good and forever.

In the new scheme of things, the autos will be redesigned to make them more comfortable for the commuters, have space for advertisements, fitted with GPS devices for security and provide new-age payment options like through prepaid card.

"It is a win-win situation for all. The income of the auto drivers will go up, the advertisers will get more visibility and the commuters will get a comfortable ride," said Rakesh Aggarwal, Secretary, Nyayabhoomi, the NGO behind the idea.

A host of other high tech innovations are also lined up to become part of the auto overhaul. Aggarwal said that in collaboration with Invest India Micro Pension Services Ltd (IIMPS) a pension scheme for the auto drivers have also been launched.

"There are 80,000 auto drivers in Delhi. None of them have access to pension schemes, rendering them vulnerable when they grow old and frail. Revenues for the pension schemes are being raised through advertisements on autorickshaws.

In addition to pension, the drivers will be also provided health insurance, accidental insurance, cash incentives and many other benefits soon," said Ashish Aggarwal, Executive Director of IIMPS, an organisation working for social security of low income group workers.

Pension services will be available to all auto drivers under the aegis of 'Auto Star Club'. The schemes are designed in such a way that the driver is encouraged to invest more and more of his savings into pension schemes.

Aggarwal said they are also planning to launch a dial-an-auto service on the lines of radio taxis in the town. "But, it will take some time to materialise. It's on the drawing board only, as yet."

Apart from the prepaid cards, another payment option on offer would be payment through account. A commuter can open the account with the NGO and get the fare money transferred from his account.

"These autos can also act as point of sale for various advertisers. We are in talks with some of the companies wherein they have agreed not to charge the passengers asking for a drop to their venue. Rather the entire fare will be paid by the company. This is just one aspect. There are several other things on which we are negotiating," added Aggarwal.

Around 1,000 autorickshaws are ready to be modified and by the beginning of Commonwealth Games in 2010, almost 5000 autorickshaws are expected to be customised.

Tata Indicom, Chhabra Triple Five Fashions and Reliance Communications have already hired the autorickshaws for brand promotion, and therefore, have enabled the drivers to benefit from pension services.

Sitaram, one of the auto drivers working with the NGO said, "The initiative will help us to secure our family's future. This scheme will also make us financially independent."

Out-of-the-box

  • 6 square feet of back-lit display space
  • 12 square feet on the sides and the roof
  • Multiple inside panels with boxes for suggestions and brochures
  • Body of high strength and dimensional stability, low weight, non-corroding, thermally insulated, chemically resistant and fire retardant
  • Capacity to custom-design expandable at 6 days notice.
 
Source : Mid-Day

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