SUJAY NADER was just a student when he decided to join the app-based taxi aggregator platform of Ola a year or so back. Nader now claims to earn between Rs 8,000 and 13,000 per day. “I have managed to expand my fleet since then,” he said. Like Nader, many other cab drivers who are attached to the app-based taxi aggregator services like Ola and Uber have ensured the fleet of cabs in Pune see a steady growth. In fact, figures of the Pune Regional Transport Office (RTO) reveal a double-digit growth in the segment for the last two fiscals. According to RTO, between April 2016 and February 2017, 21,835 taxi cabs were registered in Pune as compared to 10,076 such registration for the financial year 2015-16. The previous financial year (2014-15) had seen 5,678 new cabs hitting the roads of Pune. The current year’s registration would by far be the highest such number since 2001-2.
App-based players like Ola and Uber seem to have over the last few years entrenched their presence firmly in Pune. Ease of use has led to many in the city embracing this option rather than using their own vehicles. While Ola and Uber cabs have faced vociferous protests from autorickshaw drivers, their growth as the numbers say have gone unhampered. Nader had started with a third hand Indica vehicle, but has now managed to increase his fleet by five cabs. “I have plans to join 10 more cabs. This business model rewards who work,” he said.
The growth in this segment is vouched by automobile manufacturers who are eyeing this sector with interest. “We are finding that there is tremendous potential in this new emerging segment of app-based cab aggregators and are receiving an encouraging response to Bolt, Zest, Indica and Indigo with them. Tata Motors will continue to focus on customer-centricity to offer transport solutions led by technology and design, whether it is for personal or commercial segment” said a spokesperson of Tata Motors.
However, all is not all well with reports of unrest among drivers of such services slowly but steadily gaining ground. Nitin Pawar, president of Rickshaw Panchayat, said there was a bandh called by such drivers recently. “Already drivers in cities like Bengaluru and Delhi have protested against such players. Pune is also close to facing similar protests,” he said.