Hike in fares may push cab commuters to Namma Metro, buses | Bengaluru News – Times of India


BENGALURU: The steep revision in fares of taxi aggregators like Ola and Uber may not benefit cabbies in the city, say drivers and experts.
The transport department on Thursday fixed fares for app-based cabs between Rs 18 per km and Rs 54 per km, depending on the vehicle cost. The 35% to 92% hike is likely to drive many cab commuters towards Namma Metro and BMTC’s Vajra AC buses. Some others could shift to personal vehicles and autorickshaws.

However, it’s still unclear whether app-based aggregators will implement the revised fares and whether the gains will be passed on to drivers. The transport department notification bars fares based on journey time and dynamic pricing. But aggregators could collect toll charges and GST from passengers.
In 2018, the department had fixed minimum and maximum fares for app-based cabs. While aggregators hardly followed it, the department also didn’t enforce it. Sources say the new fare structure is also expected to meet the same fate. Ola and Uber were unavailable for comments.
Many cab drivers are sceptical. S Manjunath, a driver said: “The number of passengers availing cab services has reduced after the pandemic. This steep hike will only discourage the remaining customers from taking taxis. Even if aggregators increase fare, they may not pass it on to drivers, so our monthly income won’t be any different.”
Many regular passengers say they will discontinue cab travel and switch to other alternatives, including private vehicles. Venkatesh posted on the TOI website: “Increasing fare is mandatory since fuel prices are high. Avoiding cabs is necessary due to increased fares since salary does not increase based on price.”
Kaveri Madappa, a researcher on gig economies, said: “We’ve been paying artificially lowered prices for Ola/Uber cabs. Demand will be hit. It goes to show how these businesses distort prices without being regulated for so long and the mess they make of existing (taxi)sector/livelihoods.”
Asked about the impact of cab fare hike, BMRCL managing director Ajay Seth said: “It may shift commuters’ preference to public transport, both bus and Metro. While taxi travel costs Rs 18 to Rs 54 per km, Metro travel costs Rs 2.5 to Rs 3…”
BMTC has 865 air-conditioned buses, including Vajra and Vayu Vajra airport services. However, only 145 are operational now due to low demand owing to Covid-19. BMTC managing director C Shikha said: “People should shift to public transport. BMTC is creating awareness among passengers and is covering all routes and frequent trips.”
She said there was no increase in ridership even after they slashed fares of Vajra AC services in January. “We will soon allow passengers to suggest routes and timings for buses,” she said. For ordinary buses, fare is 90 paise per km and for Vajra AC buses, it is Rs 2.1-2.2 per km.

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Sagar Biswas

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