How to get reasonable Taxi and Autorickshaw Fares By Lou Wilson
Travelling by taxi or autorickshaw is an essential part of travel in India. It can also be one of the most harrowing experiences, particularly if you are trying to understand how much you should pay when either negotiating a fare or faced with a meter that appears to be incorrect. 

The first time you will most likely need a taxi is from the airport to your accommodation. There are taxi (and in some instances auto rickshaw) booking desks in the arrivals halls of most major airports. You can pre-pay at the desk for a journey based on how many people are travelling,  the distance to be covered and the amount of luggage you have. It is wise to use this service  for your first journey to avoid the problem of having to hail a taxi from the street. You can also ask the desk about what taxi firms are available and what the livery on the cabs should be, as it can vary between cities. This will also ensure you don't encounter one of the more popular scams in India in your first few hours in the country. 

All taxis and autorickshaws in India are required to register as commercial vehicles and a yellow number plate signifies this. 

Read: Taxi Cab numbers in Major Indian Cities

By law, all taxis and autorickshaws are required to have a meter installed, although this can sometimes be overlooked.  Before entering a taxi or autorickshaw first check for the meter and ensure it is turned on when you get in.  If you do not see a meter, then ask the driver where it is. 

If the vehicle does not have a meter, a good rule of thumb for a price is generally about Rs10 per kilometre in an autorickshaw and from Rs15 per kilometre in a taxi, but prices do vary between cities. There is also usually a flagfall rate and additional amounts are payable late nights starting at 11 o'clock PM in most places, although in practice the increase may start 10 o'clock PM.

 Always be sure to ask the driver for a price before you enter the vehicle, and negotiate the price with them before the vehicle starts moving. If you cannot agree a price, then get out and look for the next vehicle to go past. 

If the vehicle has a meter but it is not a digital one, it may show a price that is unusual (like Rs1.10) In this instance the driver should have a rate card that they can show you that will tell you what the correct fare is.  

Even if the vehicle has a meter, the driver may refuse to use it.  This is more common in some cities rather than others, for example in Chennai they are far less likely to use a meter than they are in Mumbai. You will no doubt discover quite quickly what is the case in the city you are in.  

If you feel you’ve had a great service from a taxi or rickshaw driver then ask for their number and use them again. You can even negotiate a rate for them to them to take you around the town the next day. This would also include waiting time, which can be convenient if you want to see a lot of a town in a short space of time. 

There are some radio cab companies popping up in major cities such as Meru Cabs and Tab Cabs.  You can call these in advance, and you are then sent a text about 45 minutes prior telling you the driver’s name and contact number.  These companies don’t always work well, and if they don’t have a driver available they may forget to tell you, so it is always worthwhile having a backup plan in case your radio cab doesn’t show.