I spoke to a trishaw driver about expenses. He said a new trishaw cost about Rs. 389,000, and at the rate he goes he has to upgrade every few years. He said a meter costs about Rs. 9,000-11,000, petrol costs about Rs. 2,000 a day and I guess that’s about it. He said he did less trips before the meter (say about 10 a day) but he can’t get a hires without a meter these days. He said he does about 20 fares a day. He seems to be doing OK.
I think the guys who make money are running the dispatch services. Trishaw drivers pay some amount per month to get referrals, so they just have to run a small call center and connect customers with drivers. So, that’s what I know of trishaw economics.
The thing is that I take trishaws all the time but I’d never consider buying one. There’s a social thing about being a trishaw driver and – ads showing middle class families with trishaws aside – it’s not a real class marker. I see more office guys taking families on motorbikes than in trishaws, it really is more of a taxi and a job than a form of personal transport. AFAIK. They’re really not a bad mode of transport, if a bit unsafe. If they were electric and had doors to keep the smog out I guess I might consider it. Perhaps Vespa should make a trishaw for hipsters.