Taxis in Bangalore have begun to give the unreliable auto-rickshaws a run for their money by launching economy services for short-distance commutes.
Olacabs Wednesday unveiled “mini car rentals’’ where commuters will be charged at Rs 13 per km like auto-rickshaws. The base fare to avail the AC fleet of 250 cars being rolled out by the company is Rs 100 for the first six km.
“To solve everyday problems of commuters in cities such as Bangalore we have launched our service at auto fares, so that local commuting is economical, reliable and comfortable,” CEO and co-founder of Olacabs Bhavesh Aggarwal said. The company proposes to have a fleet of 1,000 cars operating in the short-commute segment by year-end and is looking at primarily using Tata Indica Vistas and Ford Figos.
Meru and Taxi for Sure have already entered the short-commute market in Bangalore offering rides that are competitively priced against auto-rickshaws.
Auto-rickshaws in Bangalore and Chennai have over the years become a trouble. Auto-rickshaw drivers are often irrational demanding exorbitant fares and refusing to travel to certain destinations.
In both cities, auto-rickshaws have been hit by the arrival of taxis that provide service within minutes of a telephone call and do not create uncertain circumstances for commuters while offering competitive prices. Some auto drivers have been trying to organise to face the competition. “Auto-rickshaw operators are facing stiff competition from taxi services. Taxi services have emerged as a force in cities where autos once dominated local commutes. Auto operators are themselves to blame for this. Their behaviour is irrational and they make unreasonable demands,” said M Nagaraj, a Chennai-based auto-rickshaw driver who has been campaigning to get auto drivers to use meters.
The Bangalore traffic police have, in association with a private company, started an online service called Sugama Savari or Happy Auto to rate auto drivers. Happy Autos are being given special identification stickers as a recommendation to commuters. “Road travel in metros is a tough and problematic experience that many a time leaves passengers tired and irritated,’’ former Miss India, actor and activist Gul Panag said at the launch of the Olacabs mini car rental service Wednesday.