Brace for delayed cabs till election season ends

Brace for delayed cabs till election season ends

Getting a cab in Bengaluru has become difficult with many commuters complaining of increased waiting periods. DH file photo for representation

Getting a cab in Bengaluru has become difficult with many commuters complaining of increased waiting periods.

The situation is unlikely to change at least till the elections are over as officials have taken over vehicles for election duty.

It is not unusual for passengers to complain about delay in services by Ola and Uber. However, customers said the estimated arrival time has doubled in the last two months.

Passengers said drivers cancelled the trips in the last minute. Drivers of Ola and Uber said they were being assigned new trips even before they completed the previous one.

“Last Friday, I booked an Uber cab from Monotype (in Banashankari 2nd Stage) around 12.30 pm to reach a wedding venue. The driver said he was yet to complete a trip and cancelled the ride. The second booking also got cancelled. It was 2 pm when I got the cab. My cousin missed the wedding as her Ola cab never arrived,” a woman passenger told DH.

Gautam Kris Shankar, a commuter, tweeted to the firms: “What is with the new trend of your drivers making the passenger wait for 5 minutes before cancelling? I’ve had 6 drivers do this to me today and wasted a good 25 mins of my time trying to get a cab?”

Gaurishankar, a cab driver who works with both Ola and Uber, said he is assigned faraway pickups, forcing him to cancel rides. “There has been a gradual increase in waiting time due driver shortage. Both companies have lost thousands of drivers over the last one year. Of the 48 drivers in our group, 30 have quit,” he said.

“Recently, officials have been taking our cars for election duty. The situation has worsened,” he added.

National Drivers Union president Gandasi Sadanandaswamy said a majority of private commercial vehicles “forcibly taken over” for election duty were those of Ola and Uber. “According to available information, more than 80,000 vehicles are required for election duty. The government depends on private vehicles to meet more than half of the demand,” he said.

A nodal officer in the BBMP, however, said they have taken 780 government cars and a maximum of 250 private cars for each of the four divisions in Bengaluru area. “For security-related work, a separate order has been issued authorising police to take private vehicles,” he said.

Spokespersons from Ola and Uber did not comment on the fall in driver numbers. However, an industry source said both the companies have been facing 30 to 35% drop in number of drivers. “Even before elections, there was a drop when migrant drivers returned home for the festive season. But GST, hike in diesel price and input costs have forced many drivers to quit,” he said.