Meru Cabs Tries to Race Ahead while Ola and Uber Stall

Meru Cabs slashes fares in Delhi-NCR to re­tain pas­sen­gers amid driver protests

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

Hy­der­abad: Taxi op­er­a­tor Meru Cabs has slashed fares in the Del­hiNa­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion by al­most 30%, seek­ing to take ad­van­tage of the strug­gles of Ola and Uber to re­tain pas­sen­gers amid driver protests.

For users select­ing the ‘Now’ op­tion on the Meru app, a taxi will be avail­able at ₹ 16/km. The gov­ern­ment-ap­proved rate is ₹ 23/km for day rides and ₹ 28.75/km dur­ing night.

Drivers ply­ing for Ola and Uber are protest­ing over sev­eral is­sues, pri­mar­ily re­lated to in­cen­tives, caus­ing dis­rup­tions in the ser­vices. Delhi-NCR also wit­nessed a 50% price hike in Uber ride-time fare in early Jan­uary. “We saw an op­por­tu­nity to im­prove our ex­e­cu­tion in city ser­vices,” said Nilesh San­goi, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Meru Cabs, which has re­cently regis­tered al­most a five-time in­crease in cab book­ings in Delhi. “We saw a lot of cus­tomers com­ing back to use Meru, and we have re­duced the prices to pro­vide af­ford­abil­ity to our grow­ing cus­tomer base.” The new Meru fare comes with no surge price, no ride-time charge, no base fare and no night-time charge, the com­pany said. The min­i­mum fare is ₹ 48.

On the other hand, Uber’s base fare for a sedan taxi in Delhi is ₹ 40, with ₹ 6/km up to 20 km and ₹ 12/km af­ter 20 km and ₹ 1.5 per minute. Ola’s base fare for a sedan taxi in Delhi is ₹ 75, with ₹ 10/km up to 20 km and ₹ 14/km af­ter 20 km, and ₹ 1/ minute.

“In the trans­porta­tion busi­ness, there is not much loy­alty to the brand and it all comes down to which ser­vice is cheaper,” said a trans­port an­a­lyst.

“Meru doesn’t fol­low surge pri- cing, whereas Ola and Uber have some form of surge pric­ing, which in­creases the to­tal fare.”

Meru plans to in­tro­duce of­fers for com­muters in Hy­der­abad this week. “We will look at other cities as and when we see an op­por­tu­nity. It has to work for driver part­ners, the con­sumers and the com­pany,” said San­goi.

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