Make a phone call to the rickshaw operator and negotiate the price by providing details about your starting and destination location. This community dial-a-rickshaw service in Chandigarh city is currently running in 30 sectors or half of Chandigarh city. Navdeep Kumar Asija, Founder of Ecocab says, "About 90% of the cycle rickshaw drivers have mobile and about 97% of the residents in Chandigarh have mobile phones. We sort of connected them together through our website. One can call and refer a favourite cycle rickshaw driver in their area or can also find a rickshaw to call at their door step. This provides ready services to the residents and an improved livelihood option for rickshaw walas. The website is slowly and steadily building up a database of cycle rickshaw drivers in the entire city."
Here is how it works:
The Chandigarh Eco-cabs website chandigarh.ecocabs.org has information on
• Google maps pin-pointing the location of rickshaw stands in each sector
• Cell phone numbers of rickshaw pullers
An Android-based application for mobile phone users which can be used both for adding details of rickshaw puller as well as for searching a rickshaw near your location has also been developed and is being used. Soon, users would be able to use the service through SMS notification.
Rickshaw pullers’ Membership of Eco-cabs
A potential passenger may identify a rickshaw puller and seek his willingness to be a member. Next, the contact information, cell number and photo of the rickshaw puller is to be uploaded on the community portal designed for eco-cabs. All the registrations for rickshaws have been carried purely on the recommendation of city residents.
Chandigarh Eco-cabs provides a fifteen minutes training on basic courtesies to the nominated rickshaw pullers. The “good etiquette” training for registered rickshaw pullers is also being done collectively at night shelters.
Chandigarh is a tourist city. Three routes mostly frequented by tourists have been identified for providing eco cab services (Rock Garden to Sukhana Lake and back, Geri toute Express between Sector 8 and 11 and Tourist circuit). The rickshaw drivers have fixed a rate for ferrying passengers which is economical to both them and the tourists.
"We don't have cycle rickshaw in Sector 8, many senior citizens stay in this area, make arrangement for cycle rickshaw in this area. Today I want to see the Elantte Mall please send the new green auto rickshaw at home. Nobody takes me out otherwise. God bless you"
- An elderly lady from Sector 8.
Ecocabs first started in Fazilka, Punjab. Asija says “Ecocabs are not a new mode of transport, but a new system of transport. It cannot be achieved by one person but by a collaborative effort of rickshaw operators union, local authority and a local NGO active in transportation.” Looking at the success of Ecocabs model in Fazilka, the High Court of Punjab and Haryana issued a suo moto directive to both the governments asking them to start similar services in other parts of the states.
After launching Chandigarh Ecocabs, where on an average 5 lakh passenger trips are made by cycle rickshaws, Asija now hopes to take the system to Gurgaon, Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad.
First Published in the SUM Net Newsletter, Volume 1, Issue 1, 2013