The macro economics of the Indian auto rickshaw; income of 250 rupees a day


I’m in India for a work assignment. The package that I got from my employer also includes a full-time driver. Therefore, there are not many occasions for me to use other forms of transport. However, I like to bicycle (recreational) and during evenings I also use Uber, mainly to visit restaurants. And recently I started to use the famous Indian auto rickshaw. The big advantage if you compare traveling by auto rickshaw with (for instance) Uber is the direct availability. On every corner, in every ‘chowk’, you will always find an auto rickshaw. And, yes…’s also fun to use this very unique form of transport. On one day I had an argument (yes, about money) with one of the drivers and entered my house thinking what a rude and unpleasant human being I was. Loudly I asked myself ‘what does an average auto rickshaw driver makes a month? What is his monthly income?’ I set myself a goal to find it out. Let’s start with admitting that it wasn’t easy. There is no ‘bureau of economics’ for the Indian auto rickshaw driver. However, I found some interesting sources with reliable info. But I first want to start by describing the various types of rickshaw’s. The pulled rickshaw is very rarely seen in India, although Calcutta has large base of this drivers. The changes to hire a cycle rickshaw are much higher, they are more common in India. Then the auto rickshaw, my objective for this post. These commercial motorised 3-wheeler were introduced in the 1950’s and you will find them everywhere in India. Most of the auto rickshaws are manufactured by Bajaj, one of the large conglomerates in India. I did not find any information of the total number of auto rickshaws in India, but I found some numbers of the four top cities. You will find approximately 120.000 of these vehicles in Mumbai and Bangalore, Delhi has over 80.000 auto rickshaws and Chennai, to close, has around 100.000 motored threewheelers. The business model of the auto rickshaw business is somewhat unclear. I assume that there are auto rickshaw drivers that actually own a verhicle, but the majority will lease one. And now I move to daily income. Various sources on the internet taught me that an average rickshaw driver in the city earns an average 250 Indian rupees (3 euro) a day, after all expenses and vehicle maintenance is taken into account. This results in a monthly income in Indian rupees between 6.500 (92 euro, 6 days a week) and 7.600 (107 euro, 7 days a week). I will probably bargain a little less the next time I use an auto rickshaw!

One thought on “The macro economics of the Indian auto rickshaw; income of 250 rupees a day

  1. As a client I always overpay rikshaw wallas while in India. They work really hard and from European perspective 100 or 200INR is nothing. Still I feel ashamed ‘coz in my opinion they deserve much more.


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