App-based aggregators, illegal autorickshaws and black-and-yellow taxis made a killing on Wednesday, as autorickshaws that provide last-mile connectivity to a majority of suburban commuters remained off the roads owing to an agitation called by the Mumbai Autorickshawmen’s Union to demand an immediate ban on aggregators such as Uber and Ola.
Shortage of autorickshaws resulted in an increased demand for private vehicles during peak hours, hassling commuters and affecting their daily budget.
A majority of commuters travelling by Uber and Ola were forced to opt for a higher category of car or had to pay higher fares than usual for smaller cars.
Some complained the fares were three times higher than usual. “I generally take an autorickshaw from Bandra to Vile Parle, which costs me around Rs70. Aggregators were charging as high as Rs18 a km for a small car, which otherwise costs Rs6 for a km,” said Sudhir Desai, a regular commuter.
“There was a shortage of cars even with aggregators. I had to opt for a premium car, which cost me more than double the usual fare,” said Ramya Rao, a Vashi resident.
Criticising the surge pricing, Varsha Raut, head of advocacy campaign of Mumbai Grahak Panchayat (MGP), said, “There has to be a cap on maximum charges for app-based aggregators. At the same time, they should give exact details about the number and variety of cars on their website.”
Shailesh Sawlani, general manager, Uber Mumbai, replied on email, “We have always been committed to keep Mumbai moving, especially at times when other transportation options are not available. For this strike, we have worked tirelessly with our driver partners and invested in special promotions to ensure a ride through the Uber platform was available at regular fares.”
Uber has around 60,000 driver partners to serve 40lakh riders daily in Mumbai, said a press release issued by Uber.
Thampy Kurian, general secretary of Mumbai Rickshawmen’s union, said, “The auto strike has given an opportunity to app-based taxi operators to take away our business.”