Workshop hosted by EMBARQ India emphasizes entrepreneurship and organized fleet services.
EMBARQ India, in partnership with the Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC), organized a half-day workshop in Rajkot, India on September 9 to discuss the need for reforms in the city's auto-rickshaw sector.
As a result of the workshop, the city agreed to assess the feasibility of implementing reforms and begin promoting organized fleet services in Rajkot. The city also agreed to improve infrastructure in a couple of locations with high demand for auto-rickshaw services as pilot projects.
The workshop identified key solutions required for improvements in auto-rickshaw services. The workshop was attended by important transport stakeholders in the city, including the Municipal Commissioner and staff members of RMC, political representatives, Rajkot Traffic Police and Gujarat state transport department officials, auto-rickshaw driver union representatives, citizens, external experts and entrepreneurs.
EMBARQ India Transport Specialist Akshay Mani presented findings from opinion surveys and interviews of more than 250 passengers and drivers and 20 staff from city regulatory agencies. The findings highlight the importance of auto-rickshaws in meeting the commute needs of citizens and visitors, while also emphasizing the challenges facing the sector, including quality of service for passengers, problems faced by drivers and environmental concerns.
The workshop presented a platform for the driver union representatives to voice challenges faced by the driver community, such as poor public perception, inadequacy of stands, and fuel supply issues.
EMBARQ India outlined the need to promote entrepreneurship, to introduce organized fleet services in the auto-rickshaw sector, and to address challenges faced by drivers, passengers and the city, as a whole. Case studies of pilot entrepreneurship initiatives in this space were presented by Nirmal Kumar of G-Auto service in Ahmedabad, and Ramesh Prabhu of Three Wheels United in Bangalore. The entrepreneurs highlighted how these services have been able to improve auto-rickshaw service in their respective cities.
"It is really exciting to see Rajkot’s city officials taking an interest in promoting entrepreneurship in the auto-rickshaw sector," said EMBARQ India Director Madhav Pai. "Pilot initiatives from other cities indicate that the introduction of organized fleet services have resulted in better branding and marketing of auto-rickshaw services, and in improving the quality of service for drivers and passengers and benefitting the city, as a whole.”
Rajkot’s new Municipal Commissioner, Mr. Ajay Bhadu, was equally enthusiastic, saying, “Though auto-rickshaws don’t fall under the direct regulatory purview of the RMC, we understand the importance and are committed to improving auto-rickshaw services in Rajkot in partnership with other city stakeholders."
"Our focus on auto-rickshaws, in addition to our work on improving city bus operations, will ensure that Rajkot has a high-quality integrated public transport system, resulting in benefits for our passengers, drivers and the city,” he continued.
The panel discussion conducted at the workshop identified certain key action items: assessing the feasibility of promoting fleet organization in Rajkot’s auto-rickshaw sector, and improving infrastructure for auto-rickshaws, such as creating rickshaw stands, at two or three high-demand locations, or transit hubs.
EMBARQ India will be working with RMC and other local agencies in the coming months to further these action items, an important step towards achieving a high quality auto-rickshaw service in Rajkot.
This workshop was conducted as part of EMBARQ India's agreement with Rajkot Municipal Corporation (RMC) to provide technical assistance to catalyze and help improve auto-rickshaw service in Rajkot. Over the last few months, EMBARQ India has conducted detailed passenger/driver surveys and interviews of city stakeholders. This workshop was organized to bring together city stakeholders to present EMBARQ India's findings and create a shared understanding and agreement among city stakeholders and identify the next steps required to implement reforms.