Delhi-NCR taxi drivers set to launch app-based cab service, likely to give competition to cab aggregators

App-based cab aggregators are soon going to face competition from taxi drivers as they are ready to launch a similar service in Delhi-NCR. This announcement comes at a time when the cab service giants like Ola and Uber have acquired dominance over the market, though complaints of surge pricing have cropped up fast against them.

A press release issued by Chalak Shakti, the taxi drivers' union, said that the new cab service named the SEWA cab, will be launched on 7 April. “The union has contracted several service providers for technology, customer care, operations, marketing and other business related needs,” said union leader Sahdev Panchal.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

On the fare rates, Pawan Kumar, another leader, told Firstpost that the fares will be decided by the drivers before the launch of the service. “It is likely to be the rates already decided by the Delhi government,” he added.

As per the recent notification issued by the Governor of Delhi, black and yellow top taxis can charge up to Rs 19 for the first two kilometres and and Rs 6.50 per kilometre for every additional kilometre.

The union claimed that there will be no surge pricing. They alleged that the low fare of Rs 6/km of Ola and Uber is a hogwash. “It actually works out to Rs 12-14 for Uber and Rs 14-16 for Ola without surge pricing. When surge is taken into account, the average price between the two easily crosses the Rs 15-mark,” says the release issued by the union.

Pawan Kumar informed that nearly 3,000 cabs with the new app will also have the feature of ‘hail and go’ unlike many other cab services which only registers trips sought through app.

“After a passenger boards the vehicle, the driver will ask for his mobile number and feed it into the fare meter built into the driver’s app. The meter will start immediately,” the release said.

Though the app-based taxi booking service is likely to be free from the whimsical charging of fares practiced by some drivers, the ‘hail and go’ service will probably not be free from it. “If a taxi driver disagrees to register the ‘hail and go’ journey and demands fare beyond the approved rate, what remedy the passenger would expect from the union?” asks a resident of Delhi.

Pawan Kumar, however, claims that strict action will taken against such erring taxi drivers. “SEWA cab is a service which would not be run by any company, but by the union itself. If drivers defy the rules meant for their benefit, what can anyone do?” he asked.

Anuj Rathore, a union leader, alleged that the cab aggregators have lured drivers with the promise of earnings of up to Rs 1,50,000 per month. Initially, they paid great incentives even as they reduced the fares. “There were stories reported on how the lives of drivers had taken a turn for the better, how they had put their children into English medium schools and even postgraduates have started driving cabs for extra income," he said.

Later, these companies gradually raised the bar for earning incentives, making it almost impossible for any driver to meet the target. In spite of protests and dharnas by the drivers to either raise the fares or maintain the incentive levels, the companies did not budge. Even the 13-day strike in February had no effect on the companies.

Updated Date: Mar 24, 2017 10:00 AM

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