Before ban on auto services offered by ride-hailing apps, Bengaluru people are in effect

Opinion is divided among the people of Bengaluru about Karnataka government’s action on online cab aggregators offering autorickshaw rides, with Ola and Uber Auto expected to be banned soon.

The move by the transport department comes after complaints that aggregator apps were charging at least Rs 100 for an autorickshaw ride, while the minimum fee is Rs 30. Also, the app-based platforms are operating without the license required to run autorickshaw services.

Professor Bhargavi Hemige welcomed the ban on app based autorickshaws. “In Bengaluru, half the expenditure goes to travel. With these aggregators charging higher prices for short distance travel, it is only digging more in our pockets. Fares vary greatly during peak hours. In the last six months, I have seen a phenomenal increase in auto rates. A mere 7 km ride costs between Rs 200 to Rs 250, when I have to pay only half the price for a one meter auto,” he said.

Naveen Raj, a professional, believes that switching to metered autorickshaws is a viable option. “The auto services of the cab aggregators are focused on busy areas. A user booking from a location other than busy areas is less likely to get an auto. Also, there are some instances where auto drivers cancel the ride and we are fined for the next ride. It is also difficult to trust these autos in remote areas. Regular autos or cabs are a safer option,” he said.

Priyanka Saxena, a college student in Doddagubbi, uses autorickshaws for most of the errands and to explore the city. They feel that the ban will only cause inconvenience to their movement. “This move of the government is very disappointing. As a migrant, I cannot pay that much for a cab. Ola/Uber autos were convenient for short rides. Now it’s going to be difficult. I think now I will move to metro as an alternative.”

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Public relations professional Surbhi Shandilya said she switches at least three or four autorickshaws every day as part of her job. “I use a corporate account and doing door-to-door auto booking saves time and is easy. But with the ban on these services, it will be difficult for me to move around the city. We have to go back to the conversation,” she said. “Since cab-aggregators have records on their drivers, it is easier to flag emergency issues and track drivers during untoward incidents. A system exists to address emergency problems. But regular autos do not support such a system, which actually puts the safety of women passengers at risk.”

Another professional, Akshay Patil, is not averse to paying extra money to Uber or Ola autorickshaws for their ease of use. “As compared to cab rates, auto rates are cheaper. Plus, it’s easier to auto identify apps in remote locations than regular autos. And as far as rates are concerned, I don’t really see any big difference between the former and the latter,” he said.