“Fast & safety first, sir” our tuk-tuk rides in Sri Lanka

The rider or driver seems friendly, especially when I am photographing them

Taken from lonelyplanet.

Under new rules planned for 2018, working meters will become mandatory for all passenger three-wheelers, and a national three-wheeler regulatory authority will be established to give passengers recourse in the event of fare disputes. At the same time, a new programme will train tuk-tuk drivers as tourist guides, with the aim of finally delivering the ‘tourist-friendly tuk-tuks’ that the government has been promising since 2009.

As part of the project, tuk-tuks carrying tourists will be licensed by the Sri Lanka Tourist Development Authority and required to sign up to official standards, including a requirement to display the name and address details for the driver prominently in the cab. Drivers will also be given lessons on etiquette, customer relations, essential first aid, language skills and road rules.

Generally Tuk-Tuk drivers are friendly to the tourists.  I figured that it is genuinely friendly, as the tourists are willing to pay the fare above what the typical local Sri Lankan willing to pay.

For example, at night, it is really hard to get a ride using the fare according to the meter rate.  After dinner at places in Colombo, we asked 2-3 drivers, none of them willing to take us back to the hotel by the meter.

At night, the Tuk-Tuk wanting to cross the road to the other side
During the traffic jam
Quite a safe driver, just that we did not insist on charging us based on meter. At night many of the drivers turn the meter off
Tuk-Tuks are also used as a transport vehicle for lighter goods
The vehicles transporting people in Sri Lanka are getting really close to one another

So we ended up negotiating the rates.  Generally paying something in the range of 1.5 times to twice the regular rate.

Many of them around the city, especially Colombo and Kandy.  We saw many even at tea plantation areas, where cars could be hard to ride some of the hills.

The mentality of the drivers are generally positive, since we agreed on the amount.

We find many of them really wanted to get us from places to places, fast.

Driver taking a break before continuing the work
The rider or driver seems friendly, especially when I am photographing them

So we asked the driver when he took us back from some where sub urban area back to Colombo, about 20km distance, which I checked on Google Maps, would take like 45mins to an hour.  He took us back within 35minutes.  He basically broke whatever rules (if the rules exists) to get us to the destination.

When we arrived, we asked him, what’s the rush?

Our first Tuk-Tuk ride in Sri Lanka

“Fast and safety sir,” he replied.

I think for him and rest of the drivers, it is about speed.  And high turnover of passengers.  It’s about surviving.