But there seems to be some light at the end of, well, auto ride, as two techies from the city have started a website that serves as a quick guide to offer average auto fares between different destinations.
'Autorickshaws in the city and elsewhere in the country are highly unregulated. Due to various factors, auto-drivers charge customers based on what they think that the customer can pay,' says Mayur Narasimhan, a team lead at a management consulting firm in the US, who has click-started the website www.meterpodu.in, in association with Anantha Subramanian, a project manager at a Chennai-based software company.
On the intention behind the site, he says, 'While we are not out to make villains out of the average auto-rickshaw driver, we think the one way to bring some semblance of order to this seemingly chaotic situation is to crowd-source the fare information and let every commuter know what the approximate auto fares would be to go from point A to point B.'
The site works on a crowd sourcing model where anyone can receive fare details as well as contribute them. 'For a given route the site will provide the average fare based on contribution from users and, in cases, where the historical fare is not available the site gives an estimate based on the distance and the running rate in that city,' explains Mayur.
The techies are currently working on a mobile version of the site. Then they want to look at creating Android and Facebook apps for meterpodu.in.
'Besides Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, we have added Coimbatore and Mysore. Depending on the response from the five cities we have now, shall include more cities,' says Mayur.
Denying any plan to monitise the site in the future, he says, 'it is a public advisory and we hope to keep it that way.'
The response to the site from Twitter and Facebook has been phenomenal. 'We've seen a lot of shares and re-tweets, plus our Facebook page has seen over a hundred likes in three days.'
There is something about autos which Mayur likes a lot. 'I love share- autos, easiest and cheapest way to get around if you don't mind being stuffed with six others,' he says.
That's the power of crowd sourcing and that is, another story.