A couple of days ago, when some TV channels showed a couple in Tamil Nadu receiving cans of petrol as their wedding present, viewers chuckled and thought the guest had a great sense of humour. But the rate at which fuel prices are going up in India, petrol and diesel will soon be counted among valuable gifts.
Both being sensitive commodities, a hike in their price directly impacts the prices of other goods and services, and consequently, the entire economy. When petrol prices started inching closer to Rs 90, and diesel followed suit by going above Rs 77, it gave birth to many jokes and memes which went viral in no time. But the fact is, the man on the street is suffering. Visiting a fuel station is an unpleasant thought, and one would be happy to put it off as much as one can.
While economists and experts are demanding introduction of GST on fuel as well to cut down the price, the scenario is quite chaotic today. However, here are a few individuals who don’t want to wait for this change to happen. They have already resorted to alternative modes of transport such as carpool, e-rickshaws, trains, buses and even walking to avoid burning a hole in their pockets.
“Although it might sound cliched, I find public transport the best option if you want to travel without spending a lot. I did travel by motorbike for a few years but the recent jump in the fuel price is actually killing me,” says Arijit Roy, a Bengaluru-based IT professional, who is now opting for buses to travel around the city.
Roy further adds that choosing public transport is like doing one’s own bit for society. “You don’t add to the pollution and save fuel too. Besides, mornings become more organised and planned since you have to be at the bus stop at a specific time. If you’re are late, you miss the bus which means you are late to work. You may find it a bit cumbersome to travel by bus initially, but you’ll begin to enjoy it eventually, especially when you are saving so much of money!” exclaims Roy.
However, Swarnadip Khan, area manager, Bharat Petroleum Limited, Asansol, West Bengal, doesn’t completely agree with Roy. He says that an efficient and well-managed alternative mode of transport will be effective only in 5-10 years because currently there is an unavailability of charging stations for electric vehicles, there are less number of CNG fuel stations and there is a lot of reluctance on the part of the government to improve public transport.
“I guess right now, car or bike pooling is the best option. It’s hassle-free and saves time. Instead of spending on diesel and petrol or travelling by bus, it’s always convenient to share your ride with people you know or those working in your office. We have gone for odd-even formula since last week. My colleagues and I get our car out once a week and have developed the habit of carpooling. It not just saves money but also saves fuel,” says Khan, who has even started to ask for lifts from people travelling on bikes, heading in the same direction.
But fuel prices are affecting the hired vehicles too. Nazia Jalal, an English professor from the same city, feels that rise in fuel has resulted in the rise of taxi, autorickshaw and bus fare too. “For a 10 km journey, the fare used to be Rs 12 but now suddenly it’s Rs 20. Can you imagine? I can’t take a bus to work anymore. Hence, trains have come to my rescue now. They charge you merely Rs 8 and you save a lot of time too. There’s no tension of traffic, and there are more chances of you getting a seat in a train. Although, I have to walk a kilometer after getting off from the train, I seriously don’t mind it as long I’m able to save 20 bucks a day. Walking will definitely keep me in shape,” says Jalal.
Many Pune-based individuals, who had taken up cycling for fitness and health reasons a few years ago, are now happy to cycle it to workplace too. Firstly, cycles are eco-friendly and don’t pinch your pockets, and secondly, the introduction of app-based cycling services is making it easier for people to choose cycling over fuel-based means of transport. Cycles like Pedal and Yulu (which also has cycle sharing services in PCMC area) have become a bigger rage after the recent fuel price hike.
Mridul Gaikwad, a software developer from Baner area says that the idea of using cycle is good for one’s pocket as well as for the nature. “The prices of fuel didn’t increase suddenly. If you analyse the graph for the last few years, you’ll realise that we all could see this coming. I switched to cycling last year. Not only do I go to office which is in Hinjewadi by cycle (unless it’s raining) on four days of the week but my wife and kids too use cycle when they want to go for shopping or movies. These app based cycle stations are everywhere in the city and they offer cycles on rent for a very modest price. I guess everyone should switch to cycling for smaller distances within the city,” he adds.
Just like Gaikwad, Akansha Agarwal, a student of ILS Law College, who lives in Kothrud, too uses bicycle to commute. “I bought my bicycle last month and I’m so happy I did it, else I would have ended up blowing up all my pocket money on travel. Cycling has helped me explore short cuts and lesser known routes where you can’t go by car. Now when most people are worried about refilling fuel in their vehicles, I utilise the saved money on buying my books,” adds Agarwal.