New ride-hailing app enters race, trying to pick up speed in Bengaluru

Nagara Metered Auto is the second such app to be launched in the city since the success of Namma Yatri. Metrolife tested the new ride-hailing service over the last four days.
Last Updated : 04 July 2024, 23:48 IST

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Bengaluru’s new ride-hailing service is trying to find its footing in the city. Called ‘Nagara Metered Auto’, the service was launched in June and is backed by Karnataka Rajya Chalakara Parishath (Karnataka State Driver’s Council).

This makes Nagara Metered Auto the second such app to be launched in the city since the success of Namma Yatri. Metrolife tested the new ride-hailing service over the last four days.

Teething problems

It is created by Agnibu Technologies and Brand Pride Mobility Private Limited. The most prominent difference between the new service and existing ride-aggregators is the lack of a mobile application. Nagara Metered Auto operates through a website and a WhatsApp chatbot. Only drivers are required to download an app to register and use the service.

The objective of the Nagara Metered Auto is to reintroduce the metre culture in Bengaluru, shares Shivanna, business development manager, Brand Pride Mobility Private Limited. “After conducting many surveys in the city and talking one-on-one with auto drivers, we came to the conclusion that metred autos work the best. Many auto drivers told us they were getting cheated by other ride-hailing apps and they would rather go back to using the metre,” he adds. 

On Nagara Metered Auto, the passengers will be charged as per the government-fixed fare of Rs 30 for the first 2 km and Rs 15 for every additional kilometre.

So far, over 1,500 drivers have registered themselves on the app and completed 500 rides, he tells Metrolife. However, Metrolife was unsuccessful in hailing a ride through the app. Despite multiple attempts at different locations — M G Road, Indiranagar, Okalipuram, and Sheshadripuram — the website failed to assign a driver and finally displayed the message ‘Oops! Your last ride is expired. Please try again.’ after 10-20 minutes.

Niranjanaradhya N, CEO, Brand Pride Mobility Private Limited, believes the newly launched service will take some time to find its footing in the Central Business District and surrounding areas. “We launched the app for drivers on June 10 and we’re getting more and more registrations everyday. But a majority of the registrations have come from localities like Yeshwantpur, Nandini Layout, and Whitefield. Some are from Kengeri too,” he shares.

Nagara Metered Auto also provides the option of street-hailing. A user can initiate the service using the WhatsApp chatbot. On texting ‘Hi’ to the WhatsApp number ‘96200 20042’, the user will receive a One Time Password (OTP), which will remain valid for eight minutes to start a street-hailed ride.

“One can tell whether or not the auto is registered on our app based on the branding on the exterior of the auto. There will be stickers and other markings,” explains Shivanna. A driver can also initiate rides on their own for street-hailing passengers using a QR code. Each driver has a unique QR code.

The option of street-hailing too did not yield results, as a majority of the auto drivers Metrolife spoke to were unaware of the app.

Wary drivers

Vijaya Kumar, an auto driver from Nagarabhavi, is not keen on downloading the new app. “They all start out by saying they want to help us auto drivers, but slowly they start taking more and more commission from us. I will wait for a few months and see how the app fares before downloading it,” he tells Metrolife.

Many believe there is no need for a new ride-hailing app in the city. “At one point I had five apps on my phone and it was getting confusing which one to use. I now have only two, and I aim to keep it that way. The apps we have work just fine,” says Vinod Kumar, a 42 year-old auto driver.

Published 04 July 2024, 23:48 IST

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