The Delhi rape has led to a 20% drop in business for radio taxi operators in the city with a significant number of people refraining from the cabs over the weekend.
Once hailed as the safest, fastest and the most convenient way of travelling in the Capital, the perception of radio taxis has taken a beating following Friday’s rape in a Uber cab. Uber, that has been making inroads into the traditional Indian market, was seen as a more sophisticated and upmarket cab service.
“We generally get brisk business during weekends as people tend to travel and attend more parties where they would rather hail a cab than drive themselves. Saturday was not that bad but there was a drastic fall in bookings on Sunday when news about the incident was all over town,” said an Uber official. “I am told there has been an impact of this in Mumbai as well.”
Others such as Ola cabs, Taxiforsure, Megacabs and Meru also reported a drop in the number of bookings, though not to the extent as Uber. Most say this is a short-term phenomenon.
“It has been a surprisingly lean Sunday for us,” said a Meru executive. “Transportation is a necessity now and with time business should be back to normal. If at all, we may benefit as customers would be more wary of Uber now.”
The radio taxi segment is divided into two groups, the early movers like Meru Cabs and Carzonrent that own a part of their fleet, and technology driven firms like Ola, Taxiforsure and Uber that use mobile application-based services as a middleman between the consumer and independent taxi drivers. “To do any business in India, you have to follow the laws of the land,” said Rajiv Vij, chief executive officer, Carzonrent that runs the radio taxi service EasyCabs. “Historically, this industry does not have a very good image and consumers are often fleeced and abused by drivers.
The advent of radio taxis in 2006 started bringing in organisation in the industry and we have had an unblemished eight year record. Technology companies like Ola, Taxiforsure or Uber, however, do not meet many of the prevalent regulations and that has resulted in these problems.”