Last Mile Connectivity in Delhi

Service Design

Design Research | UX Design

Awarded Funding by Ministry of Human Resource and Development

Thesis MDes Social Design + Lead Design Associate, Design Innovation Center,

Ambedkar University Delhi

June 2015- October 2017

The Problem

In Delhi, the daily commute transpires through a mixed-mode of mass transit systems and para-transit systems. Buses and the Delhi Metro, acting as long-distance mass transit carries and the para-transit Systems such as cycle-rickshaws, E-rickshaws, and auto-rickshaws serve the demand for last-mile connectivity in the city. In a city that has more than six modes of transportation that could be part of one's daily commute, the choices are not easy. The situation becomes more complex when these modes are inaccessible, unaffordable, and unreliable. The project is a Service to solve the first/last-mile connectivity issues in the city.

Why Cycle Rickshaws?

Cycle rickshaws are a cheap and flexible mode of transportation that still functions in an informal system and experiences both positive and negative effects of having no regulations. They have existed in the country for over a few decades and are yet to receive any kind of acknowledgment from the state. Because they are considered an informal mode, they do not receive any benefits or see any development in their system. This project was also an attempt to bring the rickshaw operators to the limelight while solving the problem of access for the commuters.


Quickshaw Service (Concept)

Secondary Research

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40% of India's population to
live in cities by 2030
84% increase in smartphone users in India by 2022
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4.7 million people 
ride Delhi Metro every day
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10 million or more para-transit systems existed in India in 2016 and it is growing. 
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600 thousand or more
rickshaws operate in Delhi with
or without license


Area: 573 sq miles

Population: 16.8 million 


Delhi Development Authorities Master Plans were studied to understand the changes in urban planning vis-a-vis transportation development.  

Detailed study of the para-transit systems in the city such as auto-rickshaws, cycle rickshaws, shared autos, Gramin Sewa, and E-rickshaws. This study was crucial in understanding the evolution of the city’s transportation sector both at the level of policies and their physical existence.


Data was collected and studied on the choice of modes of transportation of people based on their socio-economic class and their purpose of commute. For example, students prefer public transportation compared to the middle-aged population. And people belonging to the lower-income class prefer bicycles over public transportation for the commute to work.

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The cycle rickshaws in the city are owned by Thekedaars. A Thekedaar can own up to a hundred or more rickshaws, and rent it out for a daily rental. These rickshaws are not licensed, but provide a livelihood to labor workers from nearby states who come to the city when they run out of options in their hometowns. Some of them are farmers who come to the city during off-seasons to keep their family fed.  The Thekedaars are always the antagonists in the story, but they make this possible for the men who desperately need help. 

Primary Research


Primary research was conducted to build a narrative of current methods of access, demands, and choices made by the commuters and the factors that determine these choices.


Participant observation, interviews with 50 commuters (based on age group, occupation, and gender), an online survey of 60 commutes from different parts of the city, and group discussions with rickshaw operators (in the locations chosen for study). (9).gif
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Important Insights

The Problems in Access

The research sought community narratives to gain insights into the organic development and co-existence of the various transit systems in the city through the past.

Rickshaws are widely more accessible from a Metro Station, but it is not easily accessible from housing colonies.

Rickshaws are preferred by a majority of commuters because they are cheap and also because walking is not an easy option in the Indian weather, especially without pavements (which is the case in many places). 

Rickshaws outside a Metro station in Delhi
Patrick Jennings, 2017
Bus Stop/
Metro Stations
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Cycle rickshaws never had allotted parking spaces due to the informal nature but were a common sight outside residential areas and market spaces. This trend is also diminishing as they have started to organize themselves around the metro stations making them inaccessible from houses. It has become a mad rush in the peak hours to find rickshaws because of this reason. 



The service is proposed to be run by the State Government as a means to regulate and uplift the cycle rickshaw community. The service is on-demand not just for the users but also for the rickshaw operators which goes well with the cyclical nature of their job.


The majority of these operators do not own/ cannot afford a mobile phone, which is why there was a need for a device to connect them with the commuter. Route optimization will allow calculating the fare for the ride establishing a fair price. The service is flexible in terms of ownership of the rickshaws, which makes this a true grab and go kind of service.

A family hailing a rickshaw at Kailash Colony, Delhi.
Patrick Jennings, 2017

Key Elements of the Service

The Mobile App and GPS Device

The application allows the users to book a rickshaw, schedule a ride, or find out the nearest cluster. The Cluster operator has an application to sign up rickshaws and register them for the day. This part of the service keeps track of the devices distributed for the day. The rickshaw operators have a basic GPS device that allows them to accept rides and talk to the cluster operator or the client. This is a SIM incorporated device that allows calling for the rides only.

Rickshaw Clusters

Cycle Rickshaw Clusters are location-based groups of cycle rickshaw operators who have signed up for this service. They are allotted strategic parking in the city which allows them to service the commuters in a more structured way. They are free to sign up on a daily basis for daily rent. This gives the rickshaw operators the freedom to chose when they want to be a part of the service.

The cluster operator is responsible for Rickshaw Clusters in their zones. They rent out the GPS device which allows rickshaw operators to connect with the users and accept the rides. The Cluster Operators are assigned zones. 

Cluster Operator

How it Works

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The cluster operator registers the rickshaw operators for the day and rents them the GPS device for a small payment.
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The commuter books a rickshaw via Quickshaw and the rickshaw operator accepts the ride.
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The rickshaw operator follows the address to pick up the commuter.
At the end of the day, the rickshaw operator returns the device.

GPS Device UI

This device uses the Hindi language as the Rickshaw Operators normally are not literate in English
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Tracking the Route
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Navigation to the Address
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End Trip

Cluster Operator UI

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Signing Up a new
Rickshaw Operator
Assigning a Device
Landing Page
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Cluster Locations
Entering GPS device number
Daily log of
Rickshaw Operators
Daily log of Bookings
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