Home / Companies / News /  Ola, Uber drivers turn to online travel aggregators

Bengaluru: A sharp decline in daily commute and rise in demand for inter-city cabs is attracting Ola and Uber drivers, as many have begun to list their vehicles on online travel aggregators such as Goibibo, MakeMyTrip, Savaari Cabs and Meru.

A majority of these drivers are fleet owners who have attached multiple cars with cab-hailing platforms including Ola and Uber. But as most corporates and offices have slowly moved to a work from home set-up, demand for daily commute is almost non-existent in many metro cities. With most consumers also choosing to use their self-driven vehicles for commute, income from daily commute rides on Ola and Uber has fallen by at least 50% in the last three months.

Industry executives also point out that Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Chennai have at least 100 daily inter-city rides originating via online platforms, which have presented as an opportunity for drivers.

Executives of Meru Cabs, Savaari Cabs and MakemyTrip said drivers and fleet owners of Ola and Uber have been attaching their cabs with them in recent weeks.

Neeraj Gupta, CEO of Meru Cabs, said that demand for intercity rides spiked in June, but started falling back in towards the end of July. Some of the most common intercity routes include Delhi-Kanpur, Mumbai-Pune, Bengaluru-Hyderabad, Bengaluru-Chennai, and Delhi-Agra.

“We get around 3,000 requests daily from top metro cities for inter-city rides, out of which we are servicing some 1,000 rides a day. We have also acquired 5,000 fresh cabs and drivers in the last two months to meet demand from inter-city customers," added Gupta.

Ashok Kumar, who operates a fleet of 15 vehicles under his travel and tourism company in Bengaluru, told Mint that he pulled out all the vehicles from Ola and Uber after the lockdown in April.

He added that a driver might have to undertake at least 10 intercity trips every month to meet a favorable income of 35,000 to 40,000 a month.

“All the inter-city rides we get from online travel firms like Goibibo and others are one-way rides, and very rarely do we get a paid return trip. Also with the current petrol and diesel costs, we have to shell out 4,000 to 5,000 for an average long trip of 400 -500 km one-way. We still end up making only 2,000 to 3,000 as profit," he added.

Apart from cab-hailing platforms like Meru, online travel aggregators are also benefitting from the existing supply of Ola and Uber vehicles that are currently lying unused due to restrictions on daily commute in major cities.

Parikshit Choudhry, chief business officer, Goibibo said the platform has witnessed a 300% increase in rides in July alone as many states have now started to remove e-pass requirements for inter-city movement.

Goibibo recently launched a feature on its platform to help users apply for an e-pass for their inter-state cab rides, making the process seamless for users. However, Choudhry pointed out that the actual demand for inter-city cabs is currently not being serviced due to rejection of e-passes.

“Around 50% of daily e-passes applied through our platform were getting rejected, so the actual number of demand for this is quite higher than the number of rides," he added.

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