Mumbai

Ola, Uber not keen on booking kiosks at railway stations

Sole bidder: Meru Cabs has been operating its services from CSMT after the fifth bid.

Sole bidder: Meru Cabs has been operating its services from CSMT after the fifth bid.   | Photo Credit: Arunangsu Roy Chowdhury

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Holding meetings with both companies to understand their needs, says CR

Major app-based cab aggregators Ola and Uber have not evinced interest in the Central Railway’s (CR) plan to provide a booking facility at key stations such as Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Terminus (CSMT), Lokmanya Tilak Terminus (LTT) and Dadar Terminus. Neither company has participated in bids that have been called on multiple occasions.

“We have called for bids on all our major stations multiple times, but to no avail. Neither Ola nor Uber has participated in them. We are now looking at attracting smaller cab aggregators and even startups,” a senior CR official said.

Senior officials also said with each fresh tender they had reduced the reserve price to see if it helps generate interest. “The CSMT bid was won by Meru Cabs, who are now operating from the station. It was our fifth bid and since the first bid the price had been reduced to half,” an official said.

Sources in the app-based aggregators said the issue was fundamentally in the way the CR was approaching the idea. “The way the railways is looking at it is from a monetising perspective and not from the consumer’s point of view. Our matrices take into account the expected time of arrival, the waiting time for our customers and more. The railway need to take care of certain standards to roll out such a service,” an official from an aggregator said. Sources also said tenders may not be the best way for the railway to proceed as it reduces the contract to a monetary figure.

Railway officials said they have been holding multiple meetings with both the companies to understand their needs. “What is the railway going to earn out of this? The contract is barely worth around ₹4.5 lakh per annum. Our primary responsibility is to provide better transport to our passengers,” a senior official said.

The official also pointed out that at stations like LTT, there is rampant issue of overcharging and bringing in app-based aggregators will increase transparency.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 2:57:05 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/ola-uber-not-keen-on-booking-kiosks-at-railway-stations/article29836346.ece

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