At Chennai Central, the better choice today is not an autorickshaw, but the mysteriously fast-growing Fastrack taxi. Consider this: if you are a party of four, and have four pieces of baggage, the ride choice automatically becomes two autorickshaws, or a taxi. So which one works out better?
Waiting at the Fastrack taxi counter can be quite stressful if the crowds are large, but the wait at a prepaid autorickshaw counter is no different. Agents for autorickshaws will start pestering you at the taxi counter, telling you that the autorickshaw is not going to be more expensive – what is more, you don’t have to wait for a cab. The autorickshaw is ready to go!
But enquire about the fare, and the auto-agent will tell you that he will fit all four passengers into one autorickshaw, and say, "pay me the same as the cab fare, which is Rs. 250". (But cab fare is Rs. 220 by meter for the approximately eight km ride, including registration charge of Rs.20 at the taxi counter; pre-paid taxi fare is Rs. 270 by Fastrack).
Most taxis operated by Fastrack are air-conditioned and the luggage naturally fits much better in a car boot than half-resting on your head in the back of the autorickshaw. So the autorickshaw offer is clearly not worth it.
The best thing is that the Fastrack cab can be hired on meter, and the display is quite clear – fare on top and distance below. There is a lesson here for Chennai autorickshaws, and they should swallow their false pride and learn it.