Commuters are up in arms over the increasing number of cancellations on app-based services such as Ola and Uber.
More often than not drivers, after accepting a ride, call up the passenger to ask about his or her destination before cancelling. They are unwilling to come to certain destinations and are not ready to pick up passengers in residential areas located away from main roads, said one regular user of Ola and Uber.
Others say drivers often ask if them if they are paying by cash or online before deciding whether to cancel the ride.
Raksha P. pointed out that it is a huge inconvenience when drivers refuse to come to the pick-up point at night. “When passengers cancel a ride, we are fined ₹50, but no relief is given to us when drivers cancel,” she said.
Another regular user of such services said he was stranded for 20 minutes in Koramanagala at night trying to get a taxi to take him to Whitefield. “Every driver who accepted cancelled without even alerting me,” he said.
Meenkashi S., a resident of Vinayaka Layout, called for platforms to address this issue. “The biggest hope with aggregators was that commuters would no longer have to deal with auto drivers declining to come to some destinations. But that has been proved wrong. Almost every time I book an Ola or Uber ride, I get a call from the taxi or auto driver asking about my destination. If it is not of his choice, the ride is cancelled. How is it different from the old system then?”
The city has more than 1.97 lakh cabs, including those attached to aggregators.
When contacted, an Uber spokesperson admitted that cancellations go against their promise to customers. “We are doubling down on our efforts to ensure a reliable service through driver education and improvements to our app and procedures. From November 2021, we had begun showing the destination to drivers before they accept the ride to reduce potential friction between riders and drivers,” said the spokesperson.
Ola did not provide a response when The Hindu reached out to it. In December, the aggregator had announced that it had fixed the problem by enabling the driver to see drop location and mode of payment. But the problem of cancellation continues to trouble passengers even now.
Cases can be booked against driver
Additional Commissioner (Enforcement) Narendra Holkar said that passengers can approach the Transport Department if a driver cancels the ride without a valid reason. “There are provisions to take action against drivers as cancellations are a violation of permit conditions. We have not received any complaints on cancellation of rides on app platforms,” he said.
According to the traffic police it is difficult to initiate action against taxi and auto drivers who cancel rides booked online.
“People usually approach us when they run into problems with auto drivers at bus stands, etc. It’s only when the police intervene that they agree to take passengers. There are instances of cases filed against auto drivers, but taking action against taxi and auto drivers who cancel bookings online is not easy,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Traffic-West) Kuldeep Kumar R Jain. “But those using apps to book cabs are unlikely to bring cancellations to the notice of the authorities.”