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Home / News / India /  79% app taxi users find 'Driver Cancelling Ride' as top issue, survey finds
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A survey carried out by LocalCircles shows that 79% of app taxi users say “Driver Cancelling Ride" after finding a destination or non-cash mode of payment as the top pain point. Meanwhile, 58% of app taxi consumers who travelled in an app taxi in the last 12 months cited “Convenience" as the top reason why consumers use these applications, however, a large number of service issues are being reported.

At present, app-based taxi services providers such as Ola, Uber, and Rapido among others have become an important part of the modern lifestyle. Although, the business volumes are not back to the pre-pandemic levels, yet, the app-based taxi business is getting there as they have recovered approximately 70% both in value and volume of rides seen before the epic Covid lockdown in March 2020. 

However, complaints about drivers cancelling rides or asking customers to do so either because they do not want to travel to the destination address or they demand payment in cash instead of digital has taken a rise. Also, other issues like long-waiting times, driver misbehaviour, excessive surge charge, and worse of all extortion have raised eyebrows about these app-based taxi services' safety protocols. Uber and Ola also faced lawsuits for their alleged lack of concern for their users. 

In 2017, the Supreme Court stated that app-based transport service providers need to be regulated and ensure the safety of women commuters. Both Ola and Uber introduced a 24x7 safety helpline, however, consumers continue to have negative sentiments for taxi aggregator apps with ride cancellation, surge pricing, customer service, and safety among key concerns.

Also, in the aftermath of 15 months since the Motor Vehicle Guidelines came into the act, LocalCircles has gone back to consumers to understand their current issues with the ride-hailing service provided by Ola, Uber, Rapido among others so that the concerned stakeholders can make appropriate interventions to address them. It also sought to understand if Government-introduced Motor Vehicles Aggregator Guidelines have been effective to resolve driver ride cancellation and surge pricing issues faced by app taxi users.

LocalCircles carried a survey where more than 65,000 responses from app taxi users residing in 324 districts of India. From these, 66% of the participants were men while 34% were women. Meanwhile, 48% respondents were from tier 1 districts, 31% from tier 2 and 21% were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.

To the first question in the survey consumers were asked about the number of times they travelled in the app-based taxis in the last 12 months. In response, 2% said they have travelled “Over 100 times" in an app-based taxi in the last 12 months. 1% said they have travelled “51-100 times", 5% said “26-50 times", 3% said “11-25 times", 13% said “6-10 times", and 34% said “1-5 times" this year. Breaking down the poll, 42% said they “haven’t travelled in an app-based taxi this year". On an aggregate basis, 58% of consumers of app taxis say they have travelled in an app taxi in the last 12 months. This question in the survey received 15,051 responses.

Further, respondents mentioned that convenience is the top reason why they used app taxis in the last 12 months. When asked about the top reason why they used app taxis in the last 12 months, in response, 27% of consumers said they “Did not want to use public transport due to safety reasons", and 17% “Did not have personal vehicle or driver available this year". 21% said they “Found them to be convenient", and 23% found them “Safe and convenient". 10% cited “Other reasons", and 2% did not have an opinion. The survey findings indicate that “convenience" is the top reason why consumers used app taxis in the last 12 months. This question in the survey received 10,441 responses.

The next question asked app taxi users about the most common experience they faced when they took an app-based taxi in the last 12 months, particularly in regards to compliance to COVID protocols of masking, social distancing and hygiene or sanitisation. In response, 35% taking app-based taxi this year said the compliance with masking, social distancing and hygiene/sanitisation was “Good", 11% said it was “Average", and 7% said it was “Poor". Breaking down the poll, 16% said “Masking and social distancing compliance was good but hygiene/sanitisation was average". 13% said “Mask and social distancing compliance was average but hygiene/ sanitisation was poor". 9% said “Masking and social distancing compliance was good but hygiene/sanitisation was poor". Only 2% said there was “No compliance to masking, social distancing, and hygiene/sanitisation protocols". 7% couldn’t say. On an aggregate basis, 60% of app taxi users in the last 12 months are happy with masking and social distancing compliance of drivers, however, they seek improvement on hygiene/sanitisation compliance. This question in the survey received 10,562 responses.

While 60% app taxi users are happy with masking & social distancing compliances, only 35% are happy with hygiene/sanitation compliance. If reasons given by app taxi users are evaluated in the order of satisfaction, it was learnt that 60% rated masking & social distancing compliances “Good", 24% rated it “Average", and 9% rated it “Poor". On the other hand, only 35% rated hygiene/sanitisation compliance “Good", 27% rated it “average", and 31% rated it “Poor".

“Drivers cancelling the ride" was the top issue consumers faced with app taxis topping issues of surge pricing in the last 12 months.

The question in the survey sought to understand about the top issue app taxi users faced with app-based taxis in the last 12 months. In response, 47% said “Drivers cancelling the ride" was their top issue with app-based taxis in the last 12 months, while 32% said they had issue regarding “Surge pricing". 9% said their top issue was “Long waiting times", 4% said “Cancellation charges", 5% said “Safety issues", and 3% said “Non-compliance to COVID protocols of mask, social distancing, and hygiene/sanitisation protocols" as top issue they faced with app-based taxis in the last 12 months. On an aggregate basis, “Drivers cancelling the ride" was the top issue app taxi users faced followed by “surge pricing". This question in the survey received 10,342 responses.

71% app taxi users say that ride cancellation issues by driver continue to persist despite Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines 2020 being in place, indicating poor enforcement

Taking cognisance of the issue, the next question in the survey asked app taxi users about their experience with driver cancelling rides in the last 15 months as compared to before. In response, 7% said “There has been some marginal improvement" and 3% said “There seems significant improvement" in the driver ride cancellation issue in the last 15 months. 10% of app taxi users said they “Have not faced any cancellation", while 9% couldn’t say. Notably, the majority of 71% of app taxi users say that ride cancellation issue by driver continues to persist despite Motor Vehicle Guidelines 2020 being in place, indicating poor enforcement. This question in the survey received 9,666 responses.

45% app taxi users say that they were charged more than 1.5 times in surge pricing despite it being set as the threshold by Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines 2020, indicating poor implementation and enforcement.

Similar to disincentivising drivers for cancelling rides, the Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines also capped the surge pricing at 1.5 times than the base fare. However, most states haven’t operationalised the guidelines yet and several consumers complained that high surge pricing is still being charged. The following question sought app taxi users’ experience with surge pricing in the last 15 months since the guidelines as compared to before. In response, 45% of app taxi users said they “Have paid more than 50% of base fare in surge charges", and another 22% said they “Have paid surge charges between 0-50% of base fare only". Breaking down the poll, 13% of app taxi users said they “Have not had a need to pay any surge charges", while 20% couldn’t say. This question in the survey received 9,129 responses.

In summary, 58% of app taxi consumers surveyed have travelled in an app taxi in the last 12 months. The majority of consumers have cited “convenience" as the top reason they used app taxis in the last 12 months, and many of them are happy that drivers were compliant towards masking and social distancing protocols. That said, consumers want improvement on hygiene or sanitation compliance to be equally adhered to by the drivers of app-based taxis. On the other hand, “drivers cancelling the ride", followed by “surge pricing" are the top most consumer concerns that require immediate attention from authorities and are causes of consumer dissatisfaction.

The platforms must implement clear disincentives if a driver requests a consumer to cancel the ride or does it themselves. Despite the Motor Vehicle Aggregator Guidelines 2020 in place, 71% of app taxi users surveyed said that ride cancellation issues by driver continue to persist, and 45% said that they were charged more than 1.5 times in surge pricing. Such practices erode consumer trust and the surge pricing caps must be implemented by the platforms independent of whether the states operationalise the guidelines or not. If that requires increasing base fares, so be it.

In addition to these, the private extortionist practices of some drivers must be addressed by easily enabling consumers to report such events and then taking immediate termination action against such drivers. These conditions should also be made part of a driver’s contract with explicit undertakings. It is apparent that there is driver stress in the system and the platforms need to address the same.

The survey was conducted via the LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.

LocalCircles is working with the Bureau of Indian Standards, Government of India to form standards for app based taxi services under Sharing Economy Services in India. 

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