Uber, Ola face heat in Mumbai, Pune

Uber, Ola face heat in Mumbai, Pune

Mumbai - Taxi and auto unions are worried about the growing clout of cab aggregators like Uber and Ola in Mumbai and Pune.


Nithin Belle

Published: Sat 15 Aug 2015, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sat 15 Aug 2015, 9:45 AM

With the traditional black-and-yellow taxis and auto-rickshaws facing the heat from cab aggregators and radio taxi services here, there are increasing attacks on the new entrants in cities like Mumbai and Pune.
Taxi and auto unions, affiliated to political parties and well-connected leaders, are worried about the growing clout of cab aggregators like Uber and Ola in Mumbai and Pune.
These aggregators are luring taxi drivers (and also auto-rickshaw drivers in the case of Ola) to their services and importantly also attracting thousands of commuters.
Uber, the San Francisco-based cab aggregator - which has been targeted by traditional taxi unions across the US, Europe and the Far East - had last month announced plans to invest $1 billion in India, which is the fastest-growing market for it after the US.
Uber has been targeted of late by some of the taxi unions here who have smashed cars with the Uber logo, snatched company-supplied mobile phones from drivers, and driven away business.
The taxi-hailing app, which does not claim to be a taxi operator, operates out of 18 Indian cities and has over 150,000 driver partners. The company has been recording 40 per cent month-on-month growth in India.
According to Uber, 'certain politically-motivated group' have been gunning for the service in Mumbai and Pune, damaging cars and snatching mobile phones. Many of the taxi and auto unions in these two cities have launched a campaign against Uber and Ola - and also fleet operators such as Meru and Tabcab - demanding that the authorities crack down on these allegedly illegal services.
Thousands of commuters in Mumbai face the problem of rude taxi and auto-drivers, who refuse to take them to their destination. They also extort money during the peak hours and especially when it rains heavily.
With a majority of Mumbai residents owning smartphones, hailing a taxi (that too a modern, air-conditioned one) is a cinch these days. The new-generation of taxis are also competitive - during non-peak hours they offer discounts, though during rush hours they charge a premium.
Organised unions including those led by politicians such as Sharad Rao and Nitesh Rane (who is the son of Congress leader Narayan Rane) have been urging the government to impose curbs on the new aggregators.
The government issues taxi licences only to people who have been domiciled in Maharashtra for 15 years and are familiar with Marathi.
The unions claim the drivers affiliated to the new firms are newcomers to the state and do not know Marathi. The unions are demanding a ban on aggregators and more regulation for the fleet operators.
But commuters are vehemently opposed to any restrictions on companies such as Uber and Ola, as they prefer the seamless and hassle-free services that they offer.

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