After Jugnoo and AUTOnCAB, it’s Ola’s turn to be the next buzz in town.
Ola on Wednesday announced the launch of autorickshaws on its app for the Tricity with more than 1,000 autos registered on its platform.
Anand Subramanian, senior director, marketing communications, introduced the app. He said their mission is to build mobility for a billion people. “The autorickshaw market is still an untapped area. We are here to create and power the demand,” said Subramanian.
However, with a base fare of Rs 14 for the first 1km and Rs 7/km thereafter (an additional convenience charge of Rs 10 and extra night charges), Ola’s rate is higher than what other operators like Jugnoo are charging. But Subramanian is unfazed.
“We are treating the auto drivers as entrepreneurs. We are giving them the freedom to choose and accept rides, to earn extra money and recover the cost per km and per minute,” said Subramanian.
On the other hand, customers can choose to pay their fare in cash or through Ola Money.
While, both the auto drivers and customers can trace the pick up location and track the ride, Ola is yet to offer ride sharing or route sharing option.
“That is purely up to the customer to allow another ride on the auto,” said Subramanian. Also, where bookings at one time could be made without downloading the app, now, one can only access through the app.
“We did have a call centre for bookings and ran it for about three years. But based on customer feedback, we phased them out and moved to app completely,” said Subramanian.
The customers can also share their ride details with friends or family, use Ola’s in-app SOS tool as well as share feedback on their ride at any point in time.
“For the auto drivers, there is rigorous training across behavioral, etiquette, routes and technology to make the ride experience seamless and consistent for customers. Each auto is powered with a Smartphone that enables driver-partner access to continuous demand from customers around them,” added Subramanian.
Ola has over 75,000 autorickshaws registered on its platform across seven cities in the country and intends to be present in nine more cities by the end of this year. It intends to on-board over 2,500 autos in the next six months in Chandigarh.
On reports of Jugnoo allegedly crying foul over Ola ‘disrupting the business space by poaching employees and driver database’, Subramanian said they are here to “create an eco system of high quality healthy drivers and not poach any business”.
Founded in January 2011 by IIT Bombay alumni Bhavish Aggarwal and Ankit Bhati, Ola (formerly Olacabs) is a mobile app for personal transportation.
Ola recently acquired TaxiForSure, India’s second largest cab aggregator.