Meru, Au­tos & Car­pool­ers Strike Gold in this Free­way

Strike by Uber, Ola driv­ers which be­gan in Delhi, has spread to H’bad and B’luru

The Economic Times - - Disruption: Startups & Tech - Var­sha.Bansal@ times­group.com

Hy­der­abad: Con­tin­u­ing dis­rup­tion in ser­vices of app-based taxi play­ers Ola and Uber due to driv­ers’ strike in Delhi, which has now spread to cities like Hy­der­abad and Bengaluru, is mak­ing com­muters turn to other ser­vice providers, from taxi op­er­a­tors to car­pool­ing ser­vices.

Taxi oper­a­tor Meru Cabs, auto ag­gre­ga­tor Jug­noo, car­pool­ing ser­vice Orahi and self-drive plat­form Revv have all seen a spike in their busi­ness this week, though ex­perts be­lieve this is a tem­po­rary mi­gra­tion. Meru Cabs said there has been a 2.5x uptick in de­mand for its cabs, specif­i­cally in the mo­bile app seg­ment, in Delhi-NCR since the start of the strike by Ola and Uber driv­ers last week.

Meru Cabs claims to have about 10% mar­ket share in the taxi seg­ment across the coun­try.

“We have seen a sharp in­crease in the num­ber of driv­ers who are sign­ing up with us (for app-based ser­vice),” said Nilesh San­goi, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the Mum­bai-head­quar­tered firm. “Most of these taxi plat­forms are non-ex­clu­sive, so the driv­ers can work for mul­ti­ple op­er­a­tors at once,” he said. The com­pany, which used to only run ra­dio taxis on their app, launched op­tions of sedans and hatch­backs on their plat­form two Meru says

chunk of new driv­ers join­ing the co are from Ola and Uber

months ago. So far, 3,500 driv­ers have joined the Meru Cabs plat­form in cities like Mum­bai and Delhi, tak­ing its to­tal fleet to over 20,000. A chunk of the new driv­ers are from Ola and Uber plat­forms, San­goi said.

Sim­i­larly, Jug­noo said the de­mand for au­tos has dou­bled due to the strike. Jug­noo has also for­ayed into taxi

ag­gre­ga­tion by launch­ing 300 cabs in Gurugram al­most a week ago. It ex­pects this fleet will ex­pand to 2,000 in the next two weeks.

“Our pric­ing and in­cen­tive struc­tures will be dif­fer­ent from Ola and Uber,” said Chin­may Agar­wal, co­founder of Jug­noo. “They gave false prom­ises to driv­ers and dumped a lot of cap­i­tal into the sys­tem. Such prob­lems were ex­pected to hap­pen and there might be fur­ther prob­lems as well,” he said.

Uber did not re­spond to the query sent by ET. An Ola spokesper­son said, “We are see­ing more and more driv­ers get­ting back to work on the Ola plat­form over the past 48 hours. We are happy to be able to serve more and more cus­tomers as the sup­ply sit­u­a­tion has be­gun to im­prove.” Thou­sands of driv­ers on Ola and Uber plat­forms in Delhi are on strike since last Fri­day, de­mand­ing an in­crease in fares and a cut in the com­mis­sion that the ag­gre­ga­tors charge them. The Delhi gov­ern­ment’s ini­tia­tive to bro­ker peace has not paid off yet.

Ex­perts said that while Ola and Uber man­aged to build strong de­mand and sup­ply, which is cru­cial for taxi ser­vice, they heav­ily sub­sidised both driv­ers and cus­tomers, lead­ing to the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to data from trans­port con­sult­ing com­pany Valoriser Con­sul­tants, Ola and Uber have cap­tured 92-94% of the cab mar­ket with a 55:45 ra­tio.

“We will see some tem­po­rary dis­tur­bance in the ser­vice but most of the driv­ers will come back as they have no other plat­form,” an in­dus­try ex­pert said on con­di­tion of anonymity. “This will help to keep only pro­fes­sional driv­ers in the busi­ness and the ones who en­tered the space to make quick money will move out,” the per­son said.

The ex­pert ex­pects the two cab ag­gre­ga­tors to in­crease fares grad­u­ally and bring more ef­fi­ciency to re­duce idle runs. “The cab ag­gre­ga­tors are also wait­ing for the Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles (Amend­ment) Bill as it will al­low surge pric­ing,” the per­son said.

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