Kochi

Online taxis, autos start scaled-down operations

Online taxi cars and a smaller number of online autorickshaws have resumed operation in the city in a scaled down manner, even as a considerable number of people have sold their taxi cars or have ventured into roadside vending following the pandemic. “A whole lot of drivers sold their cars, unable to remit monthly loan instalment. Still, over 50% of our fleet of cars is back on the roads, since demand is increasing at a slow but steady pace,” said sources in an online taxi aggregator firm.

“Online autorickshaws too are back on the road and, just like cars, have slashed their fare. They too are having takers, including trips from the city to the airport which has been priced ₹400 to ₹450,” they added.

“Most customers are individuals or people who are venturing out of their houses to do shopping in bulk. Only two passengers are permitted, that too in the rear of cars, which is separated by a transparent screen. A few car models which have rear AC vents have many takers. Passengers in other cars are willing to travel with window glasses pulled down. Drivers have been instructed to cancel trips of customers who are unwilling to wear mask or resist COVID SOPs, and report these incidents,” they added.

Fleecing

The demand for online autos comes in the wake of complaints about many drivers of regular autos fleecing customers and charging over double the permitted fare.

The advantage of online autos is that the app has fixed the fare, which is in sync with the government-approved fare. A nominal amount is charged as conveyance fee, since passengers are picked from their doorstep.

The coordinator of city-based Yellow Taxi Shajo Jose, who is also the secretary of Online Cab Drivers’ Association, hoped that demand would pick up in December-January, when tourist arrivals increase. “Currently, around 30% of our drivers are operating. Many had to sell their cars, unable even to pay the annual insurance amount. The Motor Vehicle Department’s insistence on speed governor and GPS when cars appear for annual fitness test has added to the woes. They together cost about ₹24,000,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 15, 2021 9:24:27 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Kochi/online-taxis-autos-start-scaled-down-operations/article33172702.ece

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