Dharminder Kumar (42) of Pawat Pind close to the Chandigarh airport is not the only one who left a stable, decent-paying job to become cabby in an app-driven taxi company, only to regret.
His previous job gave him Rs 20,000 a month. “Greed made me take a stupid decision. I quit a secure job with a good boss, since I heard my friends were making up to Rs 60,000 a month being taxi drivers. In the last month-and-a-half, OLA and TaxiForSure started cutting incentives,” he said, “Now I earn Rs 1,000 with great difficulty.”
The flexible working hours have come at a huge price for cabbies. Kumar says OLA used to pay its drivers an incentive of Rs 12,500 for hatchbacks and Rs 15,500 for Sedans, and now there’s none. TaxiForSure, which would give them Rs 110 per ride as inducement, now has brought it down to Rs 45. Also, between 2am and 5am, only meter charge is given to drivers — no incentive. “There is no security of income anymore. I rue my decision,” said Kumar, a father of three.
Without incentives, drivers are finding it hard to pay the monthly instalments of cars they had bought. Manmohan Singh (50) pays a mortgage of about Rs 15,000 a month for a Swift Dzire but he earns only Rs 1,200 a day, of which he spends about Rs 600 on diesel and food. “I have two children and a wife to take care of in Patiala. I have no place to live in Chandigarh, since I can’t afford to pay rent,” he said, “I sleep in my car outside different hotels at night.”
There is still some money in the profession, but only for those willing to slog for 20 hours a day, which bring into question the flexi hours this profession claims to offer. A TaxiForSure driver (26) from Chandigarh’s Sector 38 West (name withheld on request) said he worked 18 to 20 hours a day with almost no breaks “all to earn Rs 2,000 a day”. “People who have families to support can’t afford to do that,” he said, “but TaxiForSure made it clear in the beginning that the incentives could even be as bad as zero.”
Drivers misused incentive offer
Other taxi drivers also see it practically. “How long can a company afford to give incentives? Taxi companies now have more drivers than the incentives they can afford to pay. Many drivers were surviving on just incentive without working, so the companies were forced to pay them by the trips as opposed to by the hours earlier,” says Gurinder Singh, 52, who drives for TaxiForSure. He is waiting to see if the companies come up with new incentives.
Sources in the industry say that drivers had been misusing the incentives from mobile-app-based companies. Even earlier, the incentives were meant only for high performers. OLA and TaxiForSure declined to comment.