App-based autorickshaw services in city help reduce dead mileage

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Bengaluru: The recent entry of app-based autorickshaw service Jugnoo is posing a bigger challenge to traditional autos in the city. The lure of doorstep pickup, cashless payment, GPS-enabled tracking and a hassle-free ride has steadily won over commuters. The latest Chandigarh-based entrant has only intensified the competition.

Auto drivers who use app-based platforms like Ola and Uber too are relieved over reduced dead mileage. They no longer need to ply around heavily congested roads, looking for customers and burning fuel in the process.

However, these app-based auto aggregators charge an access fee or convenience fee from customers for doorstep pick up, in addition to the government-fixed auto fare (Rs 25 for the first 1.9km and Rs 13 for every additional km).

A Jugnoo spokesperson said currently more than 4,000 auto drivers are associated with them. “We have received an overwhelming response from drivers and customers. We are offering many incentives like cash back, discounted and flat fare coupons for shorter rides to make our services economical. We are not charging any platform fee and commission from drivers,” the spokesperson said.

Jugnoo, which is operational in 45 cities, including Mysuru and Hubballi, is also planning to introduce shared auto services in the city. “Once shared autos are launched, the fares will be cheaper compared to personal autorickshaw services,” the spokesperson added.

An Ola spokesperson, in an email communication, said: “Ola auto drivers have witnessed 33% reduction in their idle time and 22% fall in fuel cost, which was otherwise wasted in search of customers. Drivers get nearly 90% of their rides through Ola app, leading to a 42% increase in monthly revenue.”

“With the introduction of Ola Auto in 2014, Bengalureans were the first in India to experience cashless auto rides. Over the past few years, Bengaluru has emerged as one of our strongest markets, with customer uptake seeing double-digit growth. Every autorickshaw driver registered with the Ola platform is now financially independent and has an active bank account,” he further added.

Ola has over 2 lakh autos registered on its platform across 73 cities.

“We have seen a very favourable response from Bengaluru in terms of UberAUTO and aim to continue multi-fold growth. We have received a very positive response from both our riders who want the choice to go from point A to point B in an auto, as well as driver-partners who have another flexible earning option to compensate for their time and service,” said an Uber spokesperson.

Auto Rickshaw Drivers Union (ARDU) president D Rudramurthy said app-based autos have both advantages and disadvantages. “While it has helped reduce dead mileage, they do take commission from us. Some of the companies are crediting the amount to our bank accounts once a week.”