Cab service providers,who mushroomed as major beneficiaries of the IT and BPO boom,have hit the brakes. As a fallout of the cost-cutting measures,many IT and ITES companies have reduced the number of cabs that pick up and drop employees.
There are only 4,000 cabs catering to these sectors in 2009,down from 10,000 in 2007.
In 2007,10,000 cabs were doing business in Pune district. Today,the number has shrunk to 4,000. The major reason is that due to layoffs,the number of employees has gone down leading to a reduction in the need for transport vehicles, said Nana Kshirsagar,president,Maharashtra Call Centre Drivers and Owners Association.
The transport department is a major cost centre of the company and we are considering the option of keeping the cab services limited to night shifts. Our management has also reduced travel allowances that employees used to get for commuting to the company on their own,by over 50 per cent, said Pradnya Raje,human resource manager of an IT and BPO giant.
Buses are becoming a viable alternative. Going by the average rate of Rs 6.5 per km for the cab service,the hiring cost of a single cab is Rs 25-30,000 per month whereas that of a bus is in the range of Rs 50-60,000. But considering that a bus can accommodate more employees (one bus is equivalent to about 12 cabs),bus service definitely is cheaper.
We have reduced the number of cabs from 50 to 30 in one year and instead started bus services for many of our clients, said Ganesh Kale of Aryan Travels.
Arun Kharat,managing director,Wings Travels added,Earlier,we had 2,000 cabs providing service to 33 companies across the city. Today that has been replaced by 1,000 cabs and 70 buses.
While the number is limited to 40 per cent in Kales case,the bigger picture of the industry reflects a reduction of over 60 per cent in the number of cabs.
This has obviously forced the cab drivers and owner to look for alternative engagements.
The law does not protect the call centre cab drivers in any way. Acts such as the Industrial Disputes Act are not applicable to cab drivers. As a result,many jobless cab drivers as well as owners are directing their services to tourism and airport and station pick-up services, added Kshirsagar.