Online cab booking service Uber has launched an on-demand auto rickshaw service called uberAUTO on its platform in Delhi, which will allow users to book auto rickshaw rides in the city. Hired autos will ply at government approved metered fare and will have to be paid for in cash at the end of the ride.
To use the service, users need to login on the platform and book an auto like a regular taxi. No booking charges are levied by Uber and users don’t need to have any balance in their Patym wallets either. As of now, fares can only be directly paid to auto drivers once the trip is complete. As an introductory offer, Uber will offer a free ride of upto Rs 300 on auto bookings in Delhi to new customers.
Note that this move by Uber comes five months after Ola started piloting an on-demand autorickshaw service on its mobile app in Bangalore, allowing users to book auto rickshaw rides in the city in November. Ola, however, charged users a convenience fee of Rs 10 and had also introduced cashless payments for auto rickshaws. Uber on the other hand, which had exclusively partnered with Paytm to enable users make use of Paytm’s prepaid wallet to pay for their taxi rides, doesn’t offer this service for autos yet.
Interestingly, when Ola launched its pilot, it was reported that the company was paying auto drivers Rs 10,000 per month on top of the fare, plus Rs 1,500 as mobile charges reimbursement. It is not clear if Uber is doing something similar.
Bangalore-based taxi aggregator TaxiForSure had also introduced an auto rickshaw booking service on its mobile app and mobile site two months after Ola did. However, just last month Ola acquired the Bangalore-based rival for $200 million in a cash and equity deal. Following the acquisition, Ola and TaxiForSure were expected to continue operations as independent entities, and TaxiForSure’s investors were expected to roll over their stock into Ola.
– Last year, Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit System (DIMTS) had also launched an Android app called PoochO that enabled Delhi commuters to locate auto rickshaws near them, contact them, and book trips. It also provided information on estimated fare, trip distance, travel time, and traffic condition on any selected route. PoochO doesn’t charge any fee, though commuters need to pay for the extra distance travelled by the auto to reach them.
– Other players in this space include Bangalore-based call auto service mGaadi that claims to have over 7000 auto drivers in its network, as of September last year. mGaadi also charges a Rs 10 pickup fee and the fare is payable as per meter directly to the driver. It’s worth noting that mGaadi doesn’t accept bookings for trips to locations less than 5 kms from the commuters’ pickup point.
– There is also Pune-based Autowale which offers door-to-door pickup and drop services, along with hourly packages and the ability to book autos on a recurring basis.