“Last week, I had to go from Mehkri Circle to New BEL Road. I hailed a ride on Namma Yatri app, which I had been using for a few weeks. The driver accepted my ride, and came to pick me up. After I got inside the autorickshaw, he asked me where exactly my drop location was. When I revealed the drop location, he made me get out of the auto and cancelled my ride,” narrated Surabhi Sharma, a data analyst in north Bengaluru.
Many commuters are now disappointed that the number of ride cancellations has increased on Namma Yatri, an app which was pitched by many autorickshaw drivers as an alternative to aggregator apps, without problems like ride cancellation that was the bane of Ola and Uber.
“The driver’s reason to cancel the ride seemed very unreasonable to me. He claimed that he had assumed my drop location was Matthikere, and that he did not want to come to New BEL Road. While a couple of my rides were cancelled on the app before, this was a shocking experience, especially on an app created by auto drivers themselves,” Ms. Sharma continued.
Many ride hailers told The Hindu that they had installed Namma Yatri as quite a few autorickshaw drivers had sold the idea of an app where there would be no cancellations.
Prabhakar S., a resident of Rajajinagar, said, “A few months ago, whenever I booked a ride on other apps, the auto drivers would tell me about Namma Yatri. They told me that while the cost would be cheaper on the app (as there would be no commission), the drivers would also not cancel the rides.
“However, in the last two weeks, at least three of my rides have been cancelled a few minutes after the app showed that a driver was coming to pick me up. I continue to use the app as it costs ₹10-20 lesser when compared to other apps. But this issue of cancellation needs to be addressed. We do not need the same problems on 10 different apps.”
Namma Yatri is an open-source app launched by the Auto Rickshaw Drivers’ Union (ARDU), along with Juspay Technologies and Beckn Foundation. With around 80,000 trips a day, the app was being seen as a success story in Bengaluru. Auto drivers have collectively earned ₹90 crore through the app since its launch in November 2022.
Addressing the cancellation complaint, Auto Rickshaw Drivers’ Union general secretary T.M. Rudramurthy said, “The problem of refusal has existed ever since auto rickshaws have been on the streets. Our main aim with the app was to stop the looting of customers by other aggregators. While some auto drivers make mistakes, many others are making good use of the app to serve people. Some auto drivers are not well-educated about the etiquette we follow, which includes not refusing rides. Within our union, we often teach them to be good to customers. We will address this issue of cancellation too.”
He claimed that there will be no cancellations on MetroMitra, a WhatsApp-based chatbot and application which is expected to help last-mile connectivity between metro stations and homes. “We are deploying only professional drivers for that service. They will always wear a uniform and only take up rides which they want.”