A day after app-based taxi aggregators suspended surge pricing, the wait for cabs went up by 15 minutes to an hour on Tuesday. Over 40,000 people who tried to book a taxi on the Uber app were refused.
The taxi aggregators said drivers were no longer interested in plying. Uber and Ola drivers get 80% of the total fare.
On Monday, the Delhi government impounded at least 25 cabs after complaints of overcharging by three to four times in the name of surge pricing — extra charge for cabs booked during the rush hour.
Before the Delhi government’s crackdown on surge pricing, Uber used to serve almost all customers who book cabs on its app.
Taxi aggregators claim drivers are not interested in plying because of government’s crackdown and withdrawal of surge pricing. Uber and Ola drivers get 80% of the total fare. Surge pricing means higher fare and extra money for both drivers and the company.
“It has never happened before. During the last odd-even, less than 10,000 of our customers were unable to find cabs after opening the app. Today, we are flooded with the messages of ‘no cabs’ from our customers. We are losing customers’ trust. We are trying to bring in more cars by giving incentives to the drivers,” said Gagan Bhatia, general manager, Uber (North).
The drivers said the government action was unfair since they don’t decide surge pricing. “We drive cars even when the fare is Rs 5/km. The company fix fares. The government is harassing us,” said a driver associated with Uber.
But Delhi transport minister Gopal Rai said the government would take action against the “company too”.
To beat the rush, taxi aggregators are urging users to use carpool option. “The estimated time of arrival has gone up by 45%, which might even be unsafe if a woman is waiting at a secluded place. The promise of a cab within 2 minutes is not there now. We have been trying to meet CM Arvind Kejriwal to resolve the issue. We fundamentally believe in surge and it will be back but at the same time we want to work with the government,” Bhatia said.
Uber claims that during last odd-even in January only 8% of the bookings were made during surge times.
Uber says higher prices are required in order to get cars on the road and keep them on the road during the busiest times. This maximises the number of trips and minimises the number of people stranded.
Uber’s rival, Ola, is also facing shortage of cabs and at many locations even autos are not available on Ola app.
“In support of the vehicle rationing scheme by the Delhi government, we have temporarily pulled out peak pricing in the region. We are also urging citizens to choose shared mobility solutions like Ola Share and Ola Shuttle,” said an Ola spokesperson.