Passengers who get down at the Pune Railway Station would no longer need to walk out of the station premise to catch their pre-booked Ola cab. The Pune Railway Station has established a dedicated stand inside the station premise where 10 Ola cabs will remain parked which passengers can book by approaching a booking kiosk. This will also rid the fear among the cab drivers of a possible altercation with powerful autorickshaw union members inside the premise. Officials with Pune Division of the Central Railway said the decision to set up a stand was taken as per the directives of Railway Board. Similar stands have come up in other cities as well.
“As per the directives, we had floated open tenders to set up a stand for 10 cabs. Three firms had participated in the bidding process which was won by Ola. Under the contract, Ola will have permission to park up to 10 cabs at the stand inside the station premise and set up a kiosk from where they can be booked,” said Krishnath Patil, Senior Divisional Railway Manager (DCM), Pune Division.
The commuters are likely to welcome the move as until now drivers of mobile-based cab services were reluctant to enter the Pune Station premise as they were afraid that autorickshaw drivers may assault them as has happened in the past. Patil said the move will bring relief to hundreds of passengers who chose app-based cabs for their intra-city transport.
“There’s no doubt that cab aggregators are in high demand for intra-city transport and Pune Station and surrounding areas are one of very busy and important destinations in the city. Since there was no arrangement for these cabs to stand inside the station and they couldn’t possibly park on the roads outside the station, it was causing inconvenience to passengers as well as service providers. This move will being some degree of relief,” said Patil.
There have been incidents of autorickshaw drivers threatening cab drivers against picking up commuters from traffic hubs in the city that leave the passenger with only two choices: submitting to the “overcharging autorickshaw drivers” or walking out of the premise and then boarding the cab.
Over last two years, private cab service providers have gained considerable market share in Pune’s transport system. The autorickshaw unions, which are wary of cab services eating into their business, have staged several strikes to oppose the cab aggregates. The entry of Ola in the station premise means that Cool Cabs which was once a popular service between Pune and Mumbai, has been moved out of the station premise. The stand for Cool Cabs will now be used for Ola.
“They were given the choice of participating in the bidding. They didn’t,” said an official in the know. He said that Cool Cabs were not paying any fee to the Railways.