Pune city has seen a rise of online cab services with both national and local cab services running full fledged in the city. Apart from being mostly efficient and safe, they charge nominal fares, making it a first choice for many commuters. But the challenge these services face now is that of getting someone to drive the cars.
“In the past 6 months to one year, we have seen a big rise in number of calls we get for ordering cab services. We get about a 100 calls every day and this increases during weekends. The orders are both for local and outstation services. We receive outstation calls during the weekends and mostly for booking cabs to Shirdi, Mahabaleshwar and Lonavla,” said Satish Rahane, owner of RC tours and travels. “Mostly IT people call us. They also call up a lot at night to pick them up from a hotel and drop them to their house.”
The clientele for radio cabs is mostly IT employees. “IT people have a stressed out life. We do not want to think about driving too. So, for us cabs are very convenient as they are very efficient, they pick and drop at exactly where you want them to, there is no delay and it is safe too,” said Rohith Chundayil, who works at an IT company in the city.
Others customers include families who have to be dropped at railway stations and airports at odd hours and do not want to take their cars, and also students who want to visit tourist spots.
“Getting an auto at late hours is difficult. Plus women, if alone, find it inconvenient to stand on roads and get autos at night. Cabs, on the other hand, have fixed charges, there is no need to haggle and the clients can choose between per hour rate or per kilometer rate as per their requirement. Only last month we took a cab to Mumbai. The cab came to pick us up at 12 in the night and we reached Mumbai within 3 hours,” said Pooja Giri, a student at Law College.
But a problem faced by all such companies is the lack of qualified drivers. “Nowadays everybody is educated and wants an office job. There is a huge shortage of drivers and sometimes, we ourselves have to drive. But we make sure that whoever we employ, has a clean record. We do a thorough background check and even police enquiry in case we are suspicious. A year ago we had even got women drivers but we saw that there were hardly any requests for female drivers. Hence we discontinued it,” said Avinash Memane, owner, Digital Travel.
Kedar Kasar, owner of KK Travels, said that getting drivers is a nightmare. “Youngsters in Pune go to BPOs and call centres for jobs. Hence 80 per cent of the drivers in Pune are from villages outside the city. They do not know the city well but since they are the only option, we have to take them,” said Kasar.
Many of the cab services also have monitoring services.
“All our cabs have trackers in them. The moment it goes on the road with a client, we monitor them till it reaches back. This ensures safety of the passenger,” added Kasar.