Online taxis gains momentum in the city

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KOCHI: The online taxi revolution in Kochi started two years ago. In November 2014, when Uber started its operations in Kochi, the idea was very new to the people in the city. From a mere 500 cars, the online taxi service in Kochi is now 3,800 strong; Uber and Ola are the major players in the segment. Now youngsters and even Gulf-returnees are opting to become taxi drivers by coming on board of these online-taxi service providers.

The new-generation business segment has a glorious tale to tell within a span of just two years. In January this year, the total number of online taxi in the city was only 3,200. The number grows by around 65 new cars in a month.

Vyttila native Ajit, today, nurtures a dream to own a car and become a Uber driver. He visualises this as a mode of finding self-employment.

“I want to own a Toyota Etios and become an Uber driver. I have saved Rs 75,000 needed for the down-payment of the car. Under the entrepreneurship scheme the state government will provide Rs 20,000 as subsidy to buy a taxi. With Uber’s pay structure it will be possible for me to pay back the loan,” he says.

It is learnt that Toyota Etios and Ford Figo Aspire are the hot favourites of wannabe online-taxi drivers in the city as the maintenance cost is minimal.

It seems the state government’s scheme of self-employment loan of Rs 1 lakh through employment exchange has come as a boon for drivers in the city who want to buy a car. Of this bank loan, Rs 20,000 (20 per cent) will be provided as subsidy.

Uber and Ola are now promoting offers to buy new cars in an aggressive manner in the city as they have tie-ups with the major automobile companies. “We have received a very positive response in Kochi since our launch. In fact we continue to see fantastic growth as more and more people use Uber to move around. Now we are constantly evaluating expansion opportunities to other cities,” said an Uber spokesperson.

According to the company these offers have been there since the launch of the service.

“The online taxi service sector in the state has become a hit. Every business should solve an existing issue of the customers. Both Uber and Ola just did that. Now most of the automobile manufacturers have tie-ups with these companies and offer discounts.

Youngsters and Gulf-returnees find this an ludicrous opportunity to start their own venture-taxi service,” said John Paul, managing director, Popular Automobiles.