Most public transport providers have expressed their disappointment over private cab aggregator Ola providing a highly affordable feeder service from three Metro stations on the Versova-Andheri-Ghatkopar Metro-1 corridor from Monday. For the first time, an app-based cab service is trying to capture the ‘feeder’ sector.
This comes days after autorickshaws and drivers of kaali-peelis threatened strikes to urge the state government to regulate services of app-based cabs in the city. By offering services at Rs 3 per km through this feeder service, they have called Ola’s move “illegal” and detrimental to the future of other transport services on the road.
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In the initial stages, the feeder share services of Ola will be available at Ghatkopar, Saki Naka and Western Express Highway (WEH) metro stations, which will then be later expanded to cover all the 12 stations on the 11.4-km Metro-1 corridor. The tie up will also see these Metro stations pick up points named as ‘Ola Zones’, where commuters could wait for an Ola to pick them up after making a booking.
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“While Ola was meant to be a cab aggregator, this move makes them a ‘stage carriage’ carrier, a sole right offered to public transport buses. It is surely going to affect the business of taxis, rickshaws and buses in the city. The state government and transport authorities must take a strong action against them,” said A L Quadros, taxi union leader.
Taxi drivers had claimed app-based cabs, including Ola and Uber, had brought down their commuter rate in the past, which even resulted in the reduction of kaali-peelis in the city. The move is also likely to affect buses run by the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), whose largest share consisted of short-distance commuters.
“With Ola introducing a service like this, it will be putting the future of BEST in great danger. Not only are we losing our major share of feeder service users, but the move will further reduce the loyal commuters of the service, leaving no scope for increasing the revenue of this loss-making service,” said Ravi Raja, BEST committee member.
“The motive of BEST is to provide affordable public transport service to commuters. If this move allows private services to make profit and remain in business, it is good. We are not afraid of competition,” said Jagdish Patil, Chairperson, BEST.
Karan Singh Shekhawat, Vice President Operations at Ola, said, “Our association with the Mumbai Metro is a step towards building mobility experience for our consumers in the city. Through this association, Mumbaikars will be able to easily access Ola’s vehicles in prime locations like WEH, Sakinaka and Ghatkopar. Mumbai Metro users at these locations will have access to a dedicated Ola zone, offering easy availability of cars at the touch of a button with instant availability. We are focused on improving access to seamless and convenient transportation at every level, including last mile solutions as part of our mission to build mobility.”
Last week, the transport department submitted its revised draft of City Taxi Rules, wherein regulation in deciding the minimum and maximum fares of the app-based cabs and bringing their operation under the Motor Vehicles Act was called upon. As the services presently operate under the All India Taxi Tourists Permit in the city, bringing regulation on their movement at present would not be an option, transport officials said.
“At present, the law under which they operate does not prevent them from running such services at the price they want. It is only after ‘app-based cab permit’ law is implemented can action be taken against them for providing this service,” said a senior transport official.