WITH NO end in sight to the week-long strike by Ola and Uber drivers, local taxis and black and yellow prepaid cabs at the airport and railway stations are making the most of the deadlock between the drivers and the app-based aggregators. Most commuters, meanwhile, have begun booking local cabs in advance.
While those who have an early flight to catch from Delhi are relying on local cab companies, others have resorted to using government-registered metered radio taxi services such as Easy, Meru and Mega.
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Vishal Arora, who was scheduled to travel to Singapore at 2 pm on Thursday, said he booked a cab 12 hours prior to his journey for the first time in two years. “I called up my corner taxi stand and booked a cab because of the strike. I was not sure if I would get an Ola or Uber in time and I didn’t want to risk it,” he said.
Kulwinder Singh, the local taxi stand keeper at Vikaspuri where Arora booked his cab from, said the past week has seen his earnings rise by 80 per cent. “Hundreds of local cab stands had shut down after suffering heavy losses since Ola and Uber entered the market. After ages, all my cars have been booked for the day over the past week,” Singh said.
As the Delhi Police’s 2,000-odd black and yellow prepaid cabs provided much-needed relief to travellers at the airport and stations, the huge rush of passengers during the evenings posed its own set of problems. While Ola and Uber have been flashing a waiting time of “20 to 30 minutes”, the wait for radio cabs is even longer.
“Airport authorities have been pressurising us to increase the number of vehicles deployed but we have a limited number of cabs, around 550, which take time to return after dropping passengers across the NCR. So there is this wait time of 10-15 minutes when flights land and passengers queue up,” a Meru Cab representative at the airport said.
However, a traffic police officer said, “Between 6 pm and 9 pm, several flights land, especially at the international terminal and the deluge of passengers puts a slight strain on transportation here. Since last week’s strike, passengers have been waiting for 40-60 minutes for their turn at the taxi booths. Harried passengers complain to us but we can only ask the radio cab drivers to increase their fleet.”
“Our prepaid service is the only one where passengers do not have to wait for more than five minutes before they can board their cab because we have the most number of vehicles operating at the airport,” he added.
At the New Delhi railway station, the demand for Delhi Police’s prepaid cabs has seen a 40 per cent jump. Passengers have also been relying on the Metro and autorickshaws at the station.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court is likely to hear Uber’s plea against the striking union, Sarvodaya Delhi Association of Delhi (SDAD), on Friday, even as Uber and Ola are promoting share and pool services.
“The stalemate between us and the cab companies continues. We will take a decision on the strike after the HC order,” a SDAD member said.