After a nearly two-year hiatus, Bengaluru – the country’s Silicon Valley – is finally seeing its workforce return to its offices. But a major problem facing commuters has been a shortage of app-based taxis like Uber and Ola. While most industries such as travel, hospitality and textiles have resumed business, the dual impact of Covid and inflation has been difficult for taxi drivers to manage.
Tanveer Pasha, the chairman of the Ola and Uber drivers association in Bengaluru, told NDTV that only around 15,000 to 18,000 taxis are on the roads today compared to 1.25 lakh taxis in the pre-Covid period. .
“Many drivers have returned their vehicles because they cannot repay their loans with the meager income they are getting. Also, the agencies hired by the banks to collect the loans have seized several vehicles,” the chairman said. ‘OLA and the Uber association, Tanveer Pasha.
Almost 60% of taxi drivers who drove cabs and taxis left the city when Covid started, but only around 15% returned. This only to return their taxis to the financial institutions that owed them money. With inflation weighing on their income, many drivers have been forced to sell their vehicles.
“Due to non-payment of loans, many taxis were seized by financial institutions. The government did not help us or taxi aggregators,” says Suresh T, a taxi driver.
Another taxi driver, Naveen, said taxi aggregators charging a commission of nearly 30% of their revenue left many drivers in distress.
“The taxi aggregators charge us a very high commission. Sometimes the journeys given to us to pick up the passengers are almost 4-5 km. And our money is wasted on fuel for such short journeys. Sometimes the taxi aggregators taxis charge between 20 and 50% of our income”.
The shortage of taxis has forced passengers to wait long periods of time to book a ride on ride-sharing apps such as Ola and Uber.
According to Parvathi, a frequent ridesharing app user, “It’s hard to get rides these days. I try to book a taxi on both Ola and Uber, but the process has gotten quite inconvenient.”
Priya, who arrived at Jaipur railway station, had to wait for half an hour before getting her taxi. “I had to wait almost half an hour to book a taxi. Despite high demand, it’s a grueling request to book one as there are hardly any taxis available on the road these days -this.”
Rising inflation coupled with a hefty commission charged by taxi aggregators and rising petrol and diesel prices have left Ola and Uber drivers dry. While many drivers had to sell their vehicles, some of them even quit driving for good and took odd jobs to survive.