Ola, Uber strike: Mumbai commuters witness higher surge pricing, wait times

Ola, Uber strike: Mumbai commuters witness higher surge pricing, wait times
The drivers went on their indefinite strike starting today (Picture Courtesy: Nadeem Shaikh)

Thousands of commuters in Mumbai were inconvenienced on Monday morning after drivers, of cab aggregators Uber and Ola, affiliated with the transport wing of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) kicked off their indefinite strike from today.

The strike has been called by the Maharashtra Navnirman Vahtuk Sena which has claimed that several drivers are not being able to cover costs due to falling business.

Impact on commuters:

At the time of calling the strike, the union had claimed that most cabs associated with the aggregators would remain off the road from Monday. The situation on the road, however, was far from it.

While the exact number of cabs that refrained from plying in Mumbai was not known, there was a definite drop in the numbers of Ola or Uber cabs on the road.

As a result, even though commuters were able to book the cabs during peak hours, lesser cabs led to higher waiting times and surge pricing.

Overall, commuters saw their wait times rise from an average of 2-5 minutes to as high as 10-15 minutes.

Ola, Uber strike: Mumbai commuters witness higher surge pricing, wait times 1
Commuters had to pay more and wait longer due to less cabs on road (Picture Courtesy: Nadeem Shaikh)

Additionally, rides to busy areas like Churchgate, Lower Parel, BKC, Andheri, and Goregaon ended up costing a lot more. Around 10 am, commuters travelling towards Lower Parel or South Mumbai saw their fares rise by 1.5-4 times their regular fares.

“I pay around Rs 100 to travel from Wadala to Lower Parel every day. But I had to shell out Rs 192 due to surge pricing,” Kunal Sheth, who works at a multinational, told Local Press Co.

The situation was similar for western suburbs, where fares from Bandra to Andheri/Goregaon, Dadar to Bandra, Powai to Andheri etc showed an average surge pricing on 2.5 to 3x on both Ola and Uber.

While some commuters chose to bear the brunt of higher fares, others opted to hail a regular taxi or an autorickshaw.

The situation is expected to remain the same in the evening.

Reason for strike:

According to Sanjay Naik of Maharashtra Navnirman Vahatuk Sena, the drivers are unable to make ends meet due to mismanagement by the aggregators.

“Ola and Uber had given big assurances to the drivers, but today they are unable to cover their costs. They have invested Rs 5-7 lakh and were expecting to make Rs 1.5 lakh a month. But drivers are unable to make even half of this because of the mismanagement by these companies,” he told news agency PTI.

Naik further alleged that these taxi-hailing companies were giving first priority to company-owned cars rather than driver-owned vehicles, causing a slump in their business.

Other taxi unions, including the Mumbai Taximen’s Union, have extended support.

Meanwhile, in the wake of drivers protesting outside Ola and Uber’s offices today morning, police has issued notices to leaders of the union under section 149 of CrPC relating to unlawful assembly.

“Notices of section 149 of CrPC have been issued to Sanjay Naik, president, Arif Shaikh and Nitin Nandgaokar of the Maharashtra Navnirman Vahatuk Sena as preventive action.

If they violate any orders, they are liable to be prosecuted,” said Pandit Thorat, senior inspector of the Andheri police station.

“We have been informed by the Mumbai Police that they have proactively taken all the necessary steps to ensure the safety of commuters during the cab rides in the city,” an Ola spokesperson said.

There are over 45,000 such cabs in Mumbai alone, out of which nearly 20 percent have stopped plying due to a slump in business.

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