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 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 sa id, “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. Richard Diebenkorn, Ingleside Experts said that while Ola and Uber managed to build strong de mand and supply , which is crucial for taxi service, they heavily subsidi sed both drivers and customers, lea ding 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.