Auto rickshaw, the small three-wheeled 3-seater taxi painted black and yellow, popularly known as tuk tuk, is not only a rage among tourists but also among the local travelers as a handy and cheap travel option over short distances. There are many city dwellers who depend on autos to travel to and fro their workplaces and homes, to drop their school going kids or to go about their daily shopping errands. Auto is cheaper than taxi and is a good option to inch your way through the crowded streets of cities like Kochi where traffic snarls are the order of the day. The city roads would have been so different but for these noisy vehicles that come to our aid when we are stuck up at the middle of no where!
Simple and swift, these breezy vehicles are well suited to travel even through narrow roads, and it is difficult to spot a road in Kerala where autos don’t ply! Decked up in floral garlands and the pictures of an array of gods and goddesses every auto oozes an innate local flavour. The sprawling open windows on both sides would allow you to take a peek at the sights and sounds around unlike in a sealed air conditioned cab. Much to the delight of the tourists, most of the auto drivers double up as travel guides and explain about the various tourist attractions on the way as the vehicle winds its way further down the road.
This converted scooter, built to carry two to three people, is indeed a convenient travel option over a short distance that too at a small fee. However the charm of these handy transport options are being overly marred by the growing complaints of auto drivers fleecing the commuters, refusing to go on short trips, plying without meters and behaving rudely to the customers among many others. Though the shadow police do take the erring drivers into custody, it has not done anything to solve the city travel woes of the hapless commuters.
However, this does not mean that all of them are bad. There are auto drivers who comply with meter readings and offer a helping hand to the ailing and the aged travelers; however the bad reputation brought in by a majority of them, will remain as a blotch on the popularity of this handy public transport option that is a boon for budget travelers.