The rear end of the Mumbai autorickshaw could soon double as advertising space.
“We are planning to give rickshaw owners advertising rights,” confirmed Transport Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil. This follows demands for this by the city’s rickshaw union. Sources said space inside and outside the vehicles could be allowed for advertisements.
The idea would also prove popular with commuters — if the government goes through with it, the revenue it will generate for rickshaw owners will most likely eliminate the need for a tariff hike, which rickshaw owners have been proposing, to cover claimed hikes in prices of spare parts and Compressed Natural Gas.
“It’s a good thing that the government is planning to accept our demand. It has become difficult for rickshaw owners to survive until at the end of the month — which is also why there have been complaints of drivers resorting to meter tampering,” said Tambi Kurien, secretary of the Auto Rickshaw Union.
Owners have complained that people paste on the rickshaws, without their permission, stickers of movies and random products in the cover of nights. They have also demanded photo identity cards from the Transport department, along the lines of those planned for taxi drivers, to replace rickshaw drivers’ metal badges now in use.
Also, owners have asked for an increase in the size of the front wheel, as a safety measure, and an increase in passenger seat width by half a foot, to increase passenger space.