Taking an auto rickshaw in Delhi is an inexpensive way of getting around the city, and is ideal for going short distances. However, for those who are inexperienced, it can be fraught with challenges. This essential guide will help make it easier for you (and ensure you don't get ripped off)! Here's what you should know.
Delhi has plenty of auto rickshaws but the issue is that, unlike Mumbai, it's extremely difficult (and some would say impossible) to get them to put their meters on! The drivers will quote you a inflated fixed fare for your journey, so it's important to have an idea of the correct cost before you travel to avoid getting overcharged (which you certainly will otherwise!).
In addition, many auto rickshaw drivers won't give you a ride if you're not going in the direction they want to go, or you're going to an area where they might not be able to get another passenger.
How Much to Pay
Auto rickshaw rates increased in August 2019. The new fare is 25 rupees for the first 1.5 kilometers, plus 9.5 rupees per kilometer after that. An additional night charge amounting to 25% of the fare applies from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. There's also a luggage charge of 7.50 rupees for extra luggage (large bags).
As an estimate, you really shouldn't pay much more than 100 rupees to travel to most tourist places in Delhi. New Delhi Railway Station (Paharganj) to Khan Market is 70 rupees, New Delhi Railway Station to Nizamuddin Railway Station is around 80 rupees, New Delhi Railway Station to Connaught Place is 40 rupees, Connaught Place to Karol Bagh is 40 rupees, and Connaught Place to Old Delhi and the Red Fort is 40 rupees.
In December 2018, Google Maps introduced a helpful new feature for people traveling by auto rickshaw in Delhi and using the app for Android devices. After searching for a destination, select auto rickshaw as the mode of transport, and you'll be provided with suggested routes for the trip and as well as the estimated auto rickshaw fares. The new feature can be accessed under the app's "Public Transport" ("Also Consider" section) and "Cabs" modes of transport. Unfortunately, it's not known when this feature will be available on IOS devices. Here's how to use it.
Tips for Hailing an Auto Rickshaw and Agreeing on the Fare
If you're a foreigner, expect that the auto rickshaw driver will quote double or even triple the actual fare. If you take an auto rickshaw from Paharganj Main Bazaar, New Delhi Railway Station or any other touristy place, they may even try and charge you more than this. Therefore, it's best to walk a short distance down the road or around the corner before hailing one.
Tip: there's a 24-hour Prepaid Auto Rickshaw stand at New Delhi Railway Station, inside the parking lot in front of it on the Paharganj side. Using it will save you stress. Just ignore the drivers who will accost you on the way to the booth. You'll also find similar pre-paid stands at Old Delhi and Nizamuddin railway stations, outside the India Tourism office, and at Central Park in Connaught Place.
Especially avoid auto rickshaw drivers that are sitting around waiting for passengers. They're most likely to charge higher rates, to make up for the time they've been waiting. Instead, hail a passing auto rickshaw.
You can attempt to get the driver to use the meter by telling him you'll pay him 10 or 20 rupees more than the meter rate at the end of the trip. They often agree to this, and it eliminates the need for tiresome haggling.
If you have to haggle, the most effective way to do so is to determine the correct fare in advance and approach the driver with it. For example, "50 rupees to Connaught Place?" This indicates to the driver that you have an idea of what the rate should be, automatically giving you the advantage. Otherwise, if you ask him what he'll charge, the answer is guaranteed to be massively inflated.
Don't know the correct fare? It's unlikely that a driver will accept anything less than half of what he quotes you, so use that as a goal when haggling. Start the negotiations off with a quarter or a third of his stated fare.
How to Report Problematic Auto Rickshaw Drivers
Legally, auto rickshaw drivers can't refuse passengers, or refuse to turn their meters on. Of course, the reality is a lot different! On the positive side, help is available. Make a note of the driver's vehicle registration number, location, date and time of the incident, and either:
- Call Delhi Police on 100 to register a complaint.
- Call the Delhi Government Helpline on (011) 4240-0400 to register a complaint.
- SMS the Delhi Traffic Police on 56767 to register a complaint. Use one of the following codes REF (Refusal), OVC (Overcharging), MIS (Misbehavior), or HAR (Harassment), plus the vehicle registration number, location, and time.
- Register a complaint with the Delhi Traffic Police online here. You can also upload an image with your complaint, if you have one.
- Register a complaint using social media on the Delhi Traffic Police Facebook page or Delhi Traffic Police Twitter page.
- Or, for serious incidents and immediate assistance, contact the Delhi Traffic Police 24x7 Helpline on 1095 or (011) 2584-4444.